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Construction begins on MFRO facility that will provide sustainable ag water

Groundbreaking of the $65 million Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility for Agriculture. Shown are (from left) Left to right: Scott Lacy (Design Manager, Brown and Caldwell), Mark Filanc (CEO, J.R. Filanc Construction), Gary Silverman (VP Engineering, J.R. Filanc Construction), Christopher McKinney (Deputy City Manager/Director of Utilities, City of Escondido), Angela Morrow (Deputy Director of Utilities/Construction and Engineering, City of Escondido.)

Construction of Escondido’s $65 million Membrane Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility for Agriculture (MFRO Facility) commenced recently, marking a milestone in the City of Escondido’s goal of providing agriculture growers a high-quality irrigation supply and easing the burden on its wastewater infrastructure.

The groundbreaking marks milestone in creating a sustainable water source for agriculture growers.

The MFRO Facility will treat a portion of the city’s existing Title 22 recycled water supply from the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility through membrane filtration (MF) and reverse osmosis (RO) technologies. The MFRO product water will then blend with recycled water untreated by the MFRO process to produce up to four million gallons per day (MGD) of water with a salt concentration appropriate for agricultural irrigation.

A newly-built recycled water conveyance and distribution system will pipe the blended water to outlying parts of the City for beneficial use by Escondido’s local growers, mainly avocado orchards. The increased use of recycled water will in turn reduce secondary treated effluent discharges to the Pacific Ocean and ease the burden on Escondido’s outfall which is reaching capacity, saving an estimated $1 billion to upsize.

Mayor Paul McNamara told The Times-Advocate: “I am very excited about the start of this facility.  Making sure we have enough water now and in the future is not a trivial task.  Kudos to our city staff and others who are taking action before it becomes a crisis and overly expensive.  This is one more step in making Escondido more water independent, and a great step to maintain the local agricultural industry which is over 2 billion a year in revenue.”

“This is an important milestone for Escondido’s recycled water system,” said the City of Escondido’s Deputy Director of Utilities Angela Morrow. “The MFRO Facility will provide a reliable, affordable, and high-quality water supply to our agricultural community for generations to come, while beneficially reusing wastewater and reducing our reliance on imported water.”

Since summer 2019, a joint venture of Filanc and Brown and Caldwell has been providing engineering design, construction, and operational phase services for all aspects of the MFRO Facility, the first design-build project in the city’s history.

“We applaud the City of Escondido on successfully reaching this landmark milestone,” said Filanc Design-Build Project Manager Gary Silverman. “The JV is honored to collaborate with the City and their owner’s agent, Black & Veatch, through this historic progressive design-build recycled water project.”

Construction, startup, and commissioning of the MFRO Facility is scheduled for substantial completion by early 2023.

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