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By Brian Park

The Groundwater Recovery Plant. File photo

San Juan Capistrano’s controversial Groundwater Recovery Plant is producing less water than projected, forcing the city to increase its dependence on imported water, according to the city’s first quarter financial report.

In a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday, November 13, Cindy Russell, the city’s chief financial officer, said the plant has fallen short of its projected output in the first quarter, spanning from June to September, by 398 acre feet. The city had initially projected a total output for the fiscal year at 4,545 acre feet. The Utilities Department has asked that number be revised and decreased to 4,000 acre feet.

Meanwhile, the city’s reliance on imported water has increased by 286.9 acre feet more than projected this quarter. The annual projection was revised and increased from 2,767 acre feet to 3,312 acre feet.

The cost to buy imported water is offset by a reduction in electricity and chemical use at the plant due to decreased production, according to Russell.

The city still expects $1.4 million in revenue from water operations, after $1.3 million is allocated for Capital Improvement Projects. That money will go toward lowering the city’s $3.9 million water deficit, which Russell projects will be made up by June 2015.

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