By Yvonne Hester
Community Liaison Officer
Mojave Water Agency
Headlines across the state showcase California’s water woes affecting farms, fish and wildlife, businesses, and residents. The Mojave Desert region, however, is weathering the drought thanks to Mojave Water Agency’s (MWA) capital investments and programs that replenish groundwater supplies, and encourage water conservation. These efforts have helped to “drought-proof” the region and will ensure sustainability without any imported water for the next three years or more.
Guiding MWA is a foundation of collaborative, integrated planning that embraces sound investment, science-based policies and programs, aggressive conservation efforts, and strategic basin recharge using surplus State Water Project water.
The first Integrated Regional Water Management plan, adopted in 2004, helped to more efficiently use the region’s geology, infrastructure, and collective financial resources. That plan, developed with stakeholder participation, yielded a prioritized list of projects and programs. Since that time, more than $170 million in local, state, and federal dollars have been invested in regional infrastructure and water supply projects.
Among the Agency’s recent accomplishments is the start-up of the Regional Recovery and Recharge Project, known as R3, which provides MWA greater ability to effectively manage the region’s groundwater resources. This project provides a renewable supply of high quality drinking water for the Victor Valley communities.
Previous to R3, the Agency’s groundwater projects were constructed to deliver untreated SWP water to strategically located spreading basins for recharge. The R3 project, however, uses water from the California Aqueduct in Hesperia that is transported to the Deep Creek recharge pipeline and then delivered to the Mojave River recharge zone in Hesperia and South Apple Valley.
Developing this project required the installation of 15 miles of pipeline, construction of numerous recovery wells, turnouts, and a new pump station and chlorination facility. Coordination was required among the project partners to ensure compatibility with existing systems, as well as environmental permitting and monitoring, and community impacts.
The $55.5 million project offers an initial capacity of 15,000 acre-feet of water per year, and at full build-out it will produce a total of 40,000 acre-feet annually. An acre-foot of water can supply a family of four for an entire year. The project was funded with $24.5 million in grant funding from a Department of Water Resources Proposition 50 program grant, $11 million from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and $20 million from MWA.
Construction began in 2010 and the first deliveries were made to the Victorville Water District in May 2013. To date, 4,500 acre-feet of water has been delivered, allowing the City of Victorville to reduce its supply from high-arsenic wells.
Following a tour of the project, Victorville Councilman Jim Kennedy said, “All the community will benefit from this project, and there will be a sustainable, predictable water supply well into the future.”
The City of Hesperia has recently submitted applications to MWA for deliveries in 2014, and with Phase 1 turnouts in place and operational, other communities in the greater Victor Valley area can now access R3 to help meet growing regional demands.
A public Open House and Dedication ceremony is set May 15th at 10 a.m. at 7620 Deep Creek Road in Apple Valley. This program will feature tours of the R3 recharge site, San Bernardino County’s High Desert Interpretive Center, and MWA’s new Central Operations Center. The public is invited. For more information call Gloria Golike at 760.946.7001.