COSTA MESA, Calif.—From the outside, the Mesa Water Reliability Facility (MWRF) is a nondescript industrial building wedged between a freeway and a quiet residential tract in Costa Mesa, California.
Looks can be deceiving, for once inside the interior of the facility site, visitors are greeted with a mini redwood forest, complete with misters that emulate fog rolling in off the coast.
Gardens of native plants tell the story of California’s lush landscape, including the redwood forests associated with the district’s water source thousands of years later.
“This is what all of California’s coastal habitat looked like centuries ago,” Marice DePasquale, president of the Mesa Water District’s board of directors, told The Epoch Times during a tour of the state-of-the-art facility.
She explained how the district’s cutting-edge MWRF technology pulls 12,000-year-old water from more than 1,000 feet below ground that’s tinted amber from an ancient redwood forest. The water is naturally soft and meets all water quality standards even before treatment.
The technology deployed at the facility allows Mesa Water to serve locally sourced, reliable water via nanofiltration.
“Our system is basically a really fancy reverse-osmosis system,” DePasquale said. “We have water districts from all over the world come to study and learn about our technology here.”
The water is sent through a sand separator to remove sand and grains, and then flows through a cartridge filter that removes additional particulate matter up to the width of a human hair. It is then pushed through semi-permeable paper membranes to remove the amber tint bestowed by the redwoods, and once tested, the purified water is sent to an onsite, million-gallon reservoir before it’s pumped through the Mesa Water distribution system and on to customers’ faucets.
“It’s cheaper than bottled water and actually cleaner. Our standards are higher than the bottled water industry, so I only drink water from my tap at home,” Pasquale said.
Another benefit of the facility is its ability to recycle water that might otherwise be wasted.
“We have invested billions of dollars in world-class groundwater replenishment technology so that we can constantly be recycling the groundwater basin, which is meticulously managed,” DePasquale said. “We’re able to recycle about 92 percent of our water, which is almost unheard of anywhere else.”
The facility allows the water to remain 100 percent local, important especially when weather temperatures soar and water demand spikes. Even Super Bowl halftime can cause critical spikes in water demand when a large number of people flush their toilets at the same time. Without enough water or pressure at these times, reliable water availability would be compromised or even unavailable.
DePasquale is the second woman in Mesa Water’s history to lead its board of directors. She was elected by voters to the board in September 2017, appointed vice president in 2018, and president in 2020 by its executive committee.
She is principal of MConsensus, a public affairs firm that specializes in the areas of government and community relations, land use entitlement, and grassroots lobbying.
When asked how she applies her professional expertise to her role as board president, DePasquale said: “I manage land-use projects that have millions, even billions of dollars at stake, so I understand financing and bonds and depreciation of assets, and I also understand the environmental and public processes.”
Frequently asked to speak before various women’s and girls’ groups and organizations, DePasquale said she’s often asked what two things she would advise a young lady.
“One, take an accounting class in college regardless of what your major is, because if you cannot read a P&L [profit and loss statement], you’ll never make it out of middle management,” she said. “You need to understand money to be an effective leader.
“The second thing, if you’re smart and someone wrote on your report card at some point ‘She talks too much,’ keep talking. It’s what is going to set you apart when you’re in the business world.
“If someone had been successful in discouraging my chatty mouth, I wouldn’t be sitting here. It’s the skill that has helped me build relationships and made me most successful. I say, ladies, be chatty and learn accounting.”