Karl Kemp - Reservoir 2


  • Years Constructed: 1992-1995
  • Dedicated: October 1996
  • Capacity: 18 million gallons
  • Pump Capacity: 18,800 gpm
  • Depth: 35.5 ft.
  • Diameter: 300 ft.
  • Area of Reservoir Site: 4.5 acres
  • Pump station site: 0.5 acres
  • Concrete Used: 10,000 cubic yards
  • Steel Cable Wrap: 528,000 ft.
  • Reinforced Steel: 1.2 million pounds

History of Reservoir 2 - The Karl Kemp Reservoir

The Karl Kemp Reservoir is the second reservoir owned and operated by Mesa Water District (Mesa Water). It was named in honor of Karl Kemp, Mesa Water's General Manager from 1981 to 2001. Reservoir 2 is located under the activity field at a local school site on Costa Mesa’s east side.


When filled to capacity, Reservoir 2 is capable of storing 18 million gallons of water. Compared to an above-ground facility, below-ground reservoirs are designed to withstand more weight. Reservoir 2 is a circular, steel-reinforced concrete tank with 121 columns supporting the roof. More than one million pounds of steel reinforce the 10,000 cubic yards of concrete. The tank is wrapped with 100 miles of high strength steel cable from top to bottom. Reservoirs "float" on the water system, meaning the flow into the reservoir is set at average water usage. During times of the day when system usage is low, Reservoir 2 is filled. During periods of above-average or peak use, the reservoir empties. Reservoirs help equalize the demand on supply facilities. Mesa Water wells produce water from the groundwater basin. System pressure fills the reservoirs. Four natural gas engines pump water from Reservoir 2 to customers' homes. In addition to daily use, the reservoir provides emergency water storage. During an emergency, water demand may exceed production; continuous local storage helps safeguard adequate supplies for such an event. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District manages and uses the nearby school site and buildings, while Mesa Water irrigates the landscaped field area which is maintained by the City of Costa Mesa.

Safety Considerations

Safety is the primary concern with any public facility. Engineers and geologists study soil conditions to maximize protection from earthquake activity. Structures on a school site are designed in accordance with the most up-to-date standards and technology and inspected and approved by the Division of the State Architect (DSA). The DSA conducts regular inspections during construction and enforces stringent criteria to ensure construction of a safe structure.

Long-range Planning

In 1986, the District introduced a Master Plan to meet the long-term growing needs of its customers. The plan defined ways to improve water delivery systems, create additional local storage facilities, and develop new sources of water. The plan was updated in 1990 focused on "drought-proofing" the service area by developing additional local groundwater supplies and reducing reliance on imported water. Mesa Water is fortunate to have access to a reliable, affordable source of water.

Source of Water

Mesa Water’s primary source of water is groundwater, pumped from Orange County’s natural groundwater basin via six wells. The groundwater basin stretches 350-square miles from the Orange County line at Seal Beach and Long Beach, along the coast, down to the 55 freeway and east to Yorba Linda. Backup for Mesa Water’s well water is imported water, which comes from Northern California and the Colorado River. It flows through aqueducts to Metropolitan’s Robert B. Diemer Filtration Plant in Yorba Linda. Imported water is more costly than groundwater because of transportation and treatment costs.