IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- A boost in federal dollars is giving the Irvine Ranch Water District the funding it needs to store excess treated water instead of dumping it into the ocean.
Driving around Irvine, it's hard to believe the western U.S. is in the middle of multi-year drought.
The IRWD Communications Manager, John Fabris, said the landscaping is made possible by reclaimed water.
"Recycled water really is the reason, when you drive around the Irvine Ranch Water District, why things are so green and beautiful even though we're in a statewide drought," he said.
For the IRWD's 500,000 customers, what goes down the drain is treated and used again - for irrigation.
The water district's general manager Paul Cook said in a press conference Thursday that it was only a matter of time before the water safe to drink.
"We're very, very close," he said. "It requires the right regulation, the right monitoring, equipment and then the right projects."
That work needs funding and the IRWD got a $12 million bump in federal dollars to help modernize water infrastructure and invest in water recycling.
California's Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said the job is not "one size fits all."
"Opportunities in Orange County are very different than opportunities in the Bay Area, or even in Los Angeles County," he said. "So the idea is to support the leadership or local water agencies, provide them the resources, because they have the plan and they have the vision."
For the Syphon Reservoir, this translates to a 10-fold increase in storage capacity from 578 acre-feet to 5,000 acre-feet.
Right now, excess treated water has to be dumped into the ocean.
U.S. Representative Katie Porter called the IRWD a national leader in the push to conserve and expand water supplies and she said the time to act was now.
"The longer we wait to take action, the harder and more expensive it will become to solve both the water crisis and climate change," Porter said.
The funding came from President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton joined local leaders to make the announcement, one of several awards across California.
"Together, these represent some of the largest investments in drought resilience in our nation's history," Haaland said.
Completion of the Syphon Reservoir Project is expected in 2028.