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Treatment Plant Provides New Water Supply to 50,000 Homes, Eliminating Reliance on Aquifers

Sacramento County Water Agency

Sacramento, CA

To avoid depleting aquifers that had historically provided the area’s potable water, Sacramento County’s Water Agency needed to find a new method to supply water to its customers. By building a surface water treatment plant, the county created the capacity to supply water to 50,000 households and businesses.

Topics Covered

Water Supply & Drought
Water Quality
Energy Efficiency


Initial: 207 Million USD


General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2011

Problem Addressed

Sacramento County’s Water Agency (SCWA) has historically supplied water to its customers from underground aquifers.

Amid concerns of depletion due to pumping, SCWA looked to reduce its dependency on groundwater sources and allow the aquifers to naturally replenish themselves.

To accomplish these goals, in 2002 The Sacramento County Water Agency and East Bay Municipal Utility District created The Freeport Regional Water Authority (FRWA). The authority sources solutions to reduce the county’s dependence on groundwater. to look into solutions and blaze a trail to make real progress in reducing the current dependence on groundwater.

Solutions Used

SCWA constructed the Vineyard Surface Water Treatment Plant to change how potable water was sourced.

To meet the FRWA’s goals, the county needed a new source of potable water. As a result, Sacramento County Water Agency began construction on a new surface water treatment plant in 2008, and plant operations began in October of 2011.

The resulting Vineyard Surface Water Treatment Plant was crucial to changing how potable water was sourced, representing the biggest project ever undertaken by the Sacramento County Water Agency.

Sourcing water from the Sacramento River, the plant has the initial capacity to treat 50 million gallons of potable water a day (mgd) with plans to expand operations to treat up to 100mgd. Once the expansion takes place and treatment reaches a capacity of 100mgd, the plant will meet the water needs of 100,000 households and businesses while allowing the local groundwater aquifers to recharge.

After the water is routed from the river through a new intake and pipeline, it’s treated using a variety of methods including coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and chlorine disinfection. To reuse as much water as possible, the plant utilizes a sludge lagoon to dry solids produced by centrifuges, extracting as much as 50% of the water before disposal at the landfill. proceeding to the landfill for disposal.

Beyond reducing strain on local aquifers and creating a new sustainable supply of potable water, the Vineyard Surface Water Treatment Plant is also energy-efficient and powered by renewable energy. The two-story administration building was certified LEED Gold and features innovative designs to cool the building as well as maximize the penetration of natural light to reduce energy consumption. The entire plant, approximately the size of 60 football fields, is also powered by a rooftop solar photovoltaic system with the capacity to generate more than 1MW of current.



Sacramento County Water Agency has a more sustainable way to provide potable water to its residents without depleting groundwater reserves.


The plant has facilities and processes optimized to extract as much water as possible from solid waste, minimizing water waste.


The plant can treat enough water daily to serve 50,000 households and businesses, with an expansion to serve 100,000 households planned for the future.


As the most expensive project undertaken by the Sacramento County Water Agency at $207 million, the groundwork has been laid for other communities to build similar treatment plants


Certified LEED Gold, the plant has a reduced carbon footprint due to the energy-efficient design methods used as well as the rooftop solar photovoltaic system

Something Unique

The project was the winner of several awards including ASCE Sacramento Chapter Water Treatment Project of the year 2011, ASCE Region 9 Outstanding Water Treatment Project Award 2011, and 2012 CMAA Project Achievement Award for $100 Million or Greater Water Project.

Who Should Consider

Communities looking for methods to increase potable water supplies without depleting underground aquifers.

Last Updated

Mar 18th, 2022

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