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By Kristina Pritchett

South Coast Water District Directors voted in favor of participating in the first phase of the San Juan Basin Optimization Plan during its Sept. 8 meeting.

Phase one of the project installs three rubber dams in San Juan Creek and Trabuco Creek, which can be inflated and deflated to better capture storm water runoff. When inflated, the dams will allow the ground to have time to absorb the water into the underground basin. Downstream, water would be pumped from the underground basin and treated potentially by existing facilities.

The project has four phases in total, with the first phase costing $34 million, which includes planning, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) work, permitting, design and construction.

The district approved to participate at a 20 percent financial stake, which equals $6.8 million.

The schedule plans for design and permitting to begin in October 2016, with a final estimated finish date of August 2017.

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