Category Archives: Water

General Water

Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board Implementation of Statewide Water Quality Policy for Onsite Wastewater Systems

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By Douglas F. Smith, Assistant Executive Officer

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, known as the Lahontan Water Board, is a state agency whose mission is to protect surface and ground­water uses for current and future benefit of all Californians. The board has seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Staff offices are located in South Lake Tahoe and Victorville.

This article’s focus is the implementa­tion of the State’s Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Policy as it affects the South Lahontan Basin. These onsite systems are more commonly re­ferred to as septic systems.

Sewered and Non-sewered Areas

In the Lahontan Region, both commu­nity wastewater treatment facilities and individual septic systems are used to manage domestic wastewater discharg­es. The Lahontan Water Board autho­rizes more than 100 discharges through individual waste discharge require­ments or orders. Most discharges of treated wastewater are applied to land as recycled water for crops, used in land­scape irrigation, or allowed to percolate through the soil to groundwater. Land applying such discharges helps to filter out pathogens and provides an effective method of groundwater recharge. Reg­ulated facilities are required to conduct monitoring and reporting to ensure the protection of water quality.

Where individuals or subdivisions do not have readily available community wastewater collection systems (sewers), individual septic systems are used. Es­timates of the number of septic systems in California are more than 1.2 million. Because the Lahontan Region is pre­dominately rural, the population served with septic systems is a significant frac­tion of the total population within the region.

Pre-policy Regulation of Septic Systems

Local jurisdictional agencies (local agencies) issue building permits for the construction of septic systems. The lo­cal agencies are counties and incorpo­rated cities/towns.

Conventional septic systems consist of a septic tank for solids removal and liq­uids disposal by sub-surface drain fields or seepage pits. To ensure protection of public health and safety, the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region (Basin Plan) has specified mini­mum criteria that local agencies must follow before issuing building permits for new septic systems. Through the Basin Plan and implementing memoran­dums of understanding (MOUs) with lo­cal agencies, the Lahontan Water Board restricted septic system discharges to 500 gallons per acre per day or 250 gal­lons per day per two equivalent dwell­ing units per acre. Installation of septic systems were allowed on lots having a net area greater than or equal to 15,000 square feet at subdivisions approved be­fore 1988.

Emergence of the Statewide Policy

There have been occurrences in Califor­nia where septic systems, for a number of reasons, have not protected water quality and public health. Because of this concern, the Legislature amended the Porter Cologne Water Quality Act and required the state to adopt a state­wide policy for septic systems regula­tion. The State Water Resources Con­trol Board (State Water Board) adopted the OWTS Policy on November 13, 2012, and it became effective on May 13, 2013.

OWTS Policy Objectives, Scope, and Processes

The OWTS Policy allows the continued use of septic systems providing they are protective of water quality and public health. The OWTS Policy recognizes that existing local agencies are best to manage septic systems and relies upon existing local programs to improve these systems, with coordination between local agencies and the Water Board. To accomplish this, the OWTS Policy establishes a statewide, risk-based, tiered approach for the regulation and management of septic systems installations and replacements, consisting of Tiers 0 to 4. The OWTS Policy also sets the level of performance and protection expected from septic systems. General OWTS Policy information describing OWTS Policy Tiers is presented below and can be accessed on the Lahontan Water Board website at: www.waterboards.ca.gov/lahontan/water_is­sues/programs/owts/index.shtml.

OWTS Policy Tiers

The OWTS Policy sets five different tiers for regulating septic systems, based on risk to water quality:

Tier 0 Properly functioning septic sys­tems and no impacts to water quality

Tier 1 Statewide standards for new or replacement septic systems

Tier 2 Local Agency Management Program (LAMP) to regulate septic systems

Tier 3 Specific standards for septic systems that may be affecting surface waters

Tier 4 Septic systems that require cor­rective action

Tier 1 sets prescriptive siting and design standards to assure short-term and long-term protection of water quality. Of significance is the allowable density for new septic systems. In the High Desert area, the minimum density under Tier 1 is one equivalent dwelling unit per 2½ acres for subdivisions created after May 13, 2013.

Tier 2 is a LAMP, administered by local agencies, for new or replacement septic systems. Local agencies develop and maintain the LAMP. The LAMP pro­vides an alternative method of achiev­ing the OWTS Policy’s objective to protect water quality and public health. A LAMP may contain different siting and design requirements than Tier 1. Of interest to economic development, the tiers associated with the local agency approval of new and replacement septic systems are Tier 1 and Tier 2.

Tier 3 applicable in areas of impaired water bodies, does not currently apply in the High Desert, as there are no listed impaired surface water bodies.

Tier 4 applies to septic systems that are not properly functioning (failing). Fail­ure may be indicated by surfacing efflu­ent, wastewater backing up in plumb­ing fixtures, septic systems component/ piping structural failure, or significant groundwater or surface water degrada­tion.

Timeline

While the OWTS Policy contains a number of milestones, it allows local agencies to manage their previous septic system program under the Basin Plan/ MOU until the Lahontan Water Board approves the local agency LAMP or May 13, 2018, whichever occurs first. After May 13, 2018, a local agency must regulate septic systems under either the Tier 1 restrictive requirement or the Tier 2 LAMP.

Summary of LAMP Submissions in the High Desert

The table below presents the eight local agencies in the High Desert portion of the South Lahontan Basin that propose to implement a Tier 2 LAMP.

Lahontan_Regional_Water_Chart

These agencies have proposed different approaches to limit septic system den­sity but generally continue the existing Basin Plan/MOU density criteria: one dwelling unit per ½ acre and 15,000 ft² for some parcels. An up-to-date status of LAMP submission, review, and La­hontan Water Board approval is avail­able on the Lahontan Water Board web-site.

Septic Systems with Supplemental Treatment

In some cases, supplemental treatment is needed because of site conditions, such as rapid infiltration rates in underlying soil and shallow groundwater or a com­mercial site that does not meet the den­sity criteria. In these cases a developer may need to add supplemental treatment to septic systems to compensate for in­creased loading of pathogens and nutri­ents. Some local agencies will include these types of systems within the scope of the LAMP and require inspections, maintenance, and monitoring. Lahon­tan Water Board staff may review these proposed systems at the request of the local agency and will provide recom­mendations for the siting, construction, and ongoing maintenance of the system. However, if the local agency chooses not to regulate these systems, the de­veloper must obtain waste discharge requirements (e.g., permit) from the La­hontan Water Board.

Water Quality Assessment Program

As stated, local agencies with a LAMP must maintain a Water Quality Assess­ment Program to evaluate the impact of septic system discharges. A Water Quality Assessment Program must include surface and/or groundwater moni­toring, data collection, and assessment. However, local agencies may use data collected from other monitoring pro­grams or data sources to characterize the effect of septic system discharges on water quality. Additionally, Water Board staff supports and encourages local agencies to track and evaluate lo­cations and densities of septic systems and water supply wells to estimate and predict future adverse changes in water quality.

Lahontan Water Board staff recogniz­es that the Water Quality Assessment Program is an evolving process. Lo­cal agencies are encouraged to partner with other agencies, such as the Mojave Water Agency, who maintains a reposi­tory of groundwater quality data from its programs as well as data gathered by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The State Water Board’s Divi­sion of Drinking Water also maintains data from regulated drinking water sys­tems.

Conditional Waiver of Waste Dis­charge Requirements

The State Water Board has waived the requirements for a septic system owner to submit a report of waste discharge, pay fees, and obtain waste discharge requirements from the Lahontan Water Board. The waiver applies to septic system discharges covered under the OWTS Policy, primarily domestic wastewater discharges of less than 10,000 gallons per day and less than “high-strength” water (less than 900 milligrams per liter of biochemical oxygen demand). Septic system owners with a design flow of greater than 10,000 gallons per day (or that meet other criteria – such as discharges of industrial wastewater) must obtain waste discharge requirements from the Lahontan Water Board.

Local Financial Effects

Local agencies are proposing LAMPs that comply with the OWTS Policy and, if accepted by the Lahontan Wa­ter Board, propose negligible effects on new developments. LAMP implementa­tion may increase tracking and monitor­ing by the local agencies and bear the cost of preparing and submitting Water Quality Assessment Program reports or supporting counties in preparing these reports. Future changes to LAMPs may be proposed to the Water Board. In­creases in local agency program costs are unknown. The Lahontan Water Board encourages developers to consid­er installing community sewer systems, where feasible, to allow for the re-use and recycling of such water for benefi­cial use of the public. In this manner the underlying high quality groundwater of the Mojave Desert can be protected and managed to provide safe drinking water to our communities for a long time to come.

General Water

Opportunity for Participation in the California WaterFix

Published by:

By Yvonne Hester

As the Inland Empire continues to rank number one in job growth, the communi­ties of the High Desert are preparing for the next wave of development. As com­munity leaders plan for growth, the ques­tion of water supply becomes paramount turning the focus on the Mojave Water Agency (MWA)—the entity responsible for ensuring a sustainable water supply. Currently, MWA’s leadership is examin­ing ways to protect and enhance supplies, and one opportunity is participation in the California WaterFix (Cal WaterFix).

What is the Cal WaterFix? It is the con­struction of an underground conveyance system (tunnels) to carry water from the Sacramento Delta to other parts of the state. It is designed to more efficiently store, capture, and move water, as well as protect endangered fish and the fragile Delta habitat. This project is an upgrade of the aging State Water Project (SWP) system which is dependent on 50-year-old levees that are subject to rising sea levels, earthquakes, and flooding.

The Mojave Water Agency is one of 29 State Water Contractors that helped fi­nance the construction of the current state’s water system and, as a participant, may buy this water to augment local sup­plies. MWA uses this imported water to sell to water districts in the MWA region. This water also is used to replenish local groundwater supplies via recharge pro­grams. The Agency purchases additional water during wet years to store in under­ground aquifers to help meet water de­mands during droughts.

How would MWA participate in the Cal WaterFix? The proposal to build the Cal WaterFix has a similar funding and use plan as the current SWP system. Con­tractors of the SWP system will pay their share of the construction costs, as well as annual maintenance and use costs. The project would not provide a new source of water, but it would improve the reliability of existing sources. This would provide flexibility to meet water demands as the region grows.

The cost for MWA to participate in the Cal WaterFix cannot be determined until decisions are made regarding the final con­struction and design and costs. The MWA Board of Directors has taken a position supporting the project in concept, but no commitment has been made to financially participate. As more detailed information becomes available, MWA will invite pub­lic input before making a decision.

Another effort underway to stretch wa­ter supplies is a new desert landscaping conservation tool to help homeowners, businesses, and landscapers choose water-wise landscaping. This new landscape ed­ucation program is a joint effort between MWA and the Alliance for Water Aware­ness and Conservation (AWAC) and it’s available online. This easy-to-use online plant database now offers information on hundreds of beautiful, California native plant species and adapted plants.

The plant database, called “Plant Search,” is hosted on the AWAC website, www. hdawac.org. A simple click takes the viewer to options that include Califor­nia native plants, groundcovers, peren­nial sub-shrubs, shrubs, cacti, succulents, trees, vines, ornamental grasses, and an­nuals. Each selection includes a series of photos, a plant description, as well as in­formation on the plant’s size, spread, cov­erage, flowering season, bloom months, color, water usage, life form, soil prefer­ence, growth rate, sun exposure, cold tem­perature ranges, and more.

The database also allows users to cus­tomize their search based on a number of factors, including color, flower season, plant cold hardiness, plant height, plant spread, soil preference and much more. New plants and updates will continually be made to the program.

For more information on MWA programs, contact Yvonne Hester at 760.946.7067.

General Water

VVWRA Subregionals Become Reality

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VVWRA

By Logan Olds General Manager, Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority

After 20 years of planning and two years of construction, VVWRA’s Apple Valley and Hesperia Subregional Water Recycling Plants (SWRP) have been completed. The plants were first en­visioned by the VVWRA Board of Commissioners some 20 years ago when it became apparent that the re­gion’s sewer interceptors were ap­proaching capacity. Faced with the expensive and disruptive option of ex­cavating and replacing miles of pipe­lines throughout the Victor Valley, the board began exploring a new, less- expensive regional treatment plan. The plan included building SWRP in Apple Valley and Hesperia that would help reduce the amount of flow in our interceptors while providing each community with a reliable source of clean recycled water. The completion of the Subregionals in Apple Valley and Hesperia represent the dawn of a new approach to treating wastewater in the Victor Valley while reusing our resources to better our community.

On February 13, 2018, large trucks delivered activated solids from VVWRA’s main plant to “seed” the Apple Valley plant adjacent to Brewster Park. Both the Apple Valley and Hesperia water recycling facilities use a biological process that requires microbes to help clean the wastewater. The microbes actually eat the organic matter in the waste. The facilities also feature FibrePlate hybrid membrane technology, which is considered a state-of-the-art filtering system. The startup process in Apple Valley took a number of months, but by mid-April the first recycled water began flow­ing to percolation ponds at the Apple Valley Golf Course. When running at maximum capacity, the Apple Valley facility will be capable of producing up to one million gallons of recycled water per day. In addition, the plant is expandable to 4 million gallons per day in anticipation of future growth. The recycled water is currently being de­livered via pipeline to the Apple Val­ley Golf Course, and there are plans to use it for irrigation at the Civic Center and area parks.

The Apple Valley and Hesperia SWRPs are designed to be a good- neighbor facilities. Much of the fa­cilities are actually below ground to deaden the sound of pumps and blow­ers. The aeration basins are covered and advanced odor-control technology is being used to eliminate unwanted odors. The visible portion of the plant is no taller than a two-story home and the surrounding grounds are tastefully landscaped to blend in with the rest of the area.

A second, nearly identical facility has been built in Hesperia but is not yet exporting recycled water. The City of Hesperia is currently installing a 10-mile pipeline that will deliver the recycled water from the plant to the Hesperia Golf Course. It will also pro­vide irrigation for the Hesperia Civic Center and area parks.

Together, the two plants cost about $80 million for planning, engineer­ing and construction. VVWRA managed to land $21 million in grants toward that cost, representing a 26% percent discount. Plus, VVWRA re­ceived a 1% interest loan on the remaining balance from the State of California. “The grants and the low-interest loan have helped save our member agencies millions in finance costs,” said VVWRA General Man­ager Logan Olds.

There are several reasons for construction of the Hesperia and Apple Valley SWRPs. With continued growth in the Victor Valley, the main interceptors or pipelines from the community to the plant could reach capacity and would have to be replaced. The VVWRA Board of Commissioners felt that construction of the regional water recycling facilities would be less expensive while also providing the communities of Hesperia and Apple Valley with a reliable source of recycled water. Another benefit from the WRPs is water conservation and reuse. Use of recycled water for irrigation is a responsible use of our natural resources and will drastically reduce the demand on our local drinking-water supplies. The same water that comes from your faucet is currently used to irrigate many community sites. Recycled water provides a reliable and safe way to keep our parks and other areas green while saving our most precious resource for use in our homes and businesses.

General Water

Cadiz Water Project: Conservation and Sustainable Management of Desert Groundwater

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By Courtney Degener, Vice President, Communications & Investor Relations

A Part of the Cadiz Team for over 12 years.

Over the last two decades, California has grappled with systemic challenges to its traditional water supplies. Climat­ic extremes and more regular dry years are the new normal. The availability of reliable water to meet all of the state’s demands is a persistent public policy is­sue. We need water for our people, our environment and to sustain our way of life. In recognition of this need, in 2009 Cadiz Inc. set the objective of creating, designing, permitting and constructing an environmentally benign water proj­ect, and today we are nearing comple­tion of these objectives.

Cadiz Inc. is the largest private land­owner in the eastern Mojave Desert, where billions of gallons of water evaporate every year from the highly-saline Bristol and Cadiz dry lakes near the town of Amboy. The playas are the down-gradient end of a massive ground­water basin in a watershed the size of Rhode Island. To stop this loss, we’ve proposed to better manage the basin to provide a reliable supply and new aqui­fer storage capacity. By capturing and conserving water before it evaporates, we can create a new, sustainable annual supply for nearly 400,000 Californians.

Under our plan, conserved project water would be delivered to the Metropolitan Water District’s Colorado River Aque­duct for distribution throughout South­ern California via a pipeline that would be built in an existing railroad right-of-way. We selected this route, which is longer and costlier than a more direct pipeline route would be, because it will avoid impacts to desert lands. Construc­tion of the pipeline, wellfield and related infrastructure will create thousands of jobs for local residents and veterans, generate nearly $1 billion in economic activity, augment Southern California’s water supply reliability and take pres­sure off existing imported supplies.

Phase 2 of the project, its storage com­ponent, is particularly relevant in this very wet year. It would enable storage of imported excess flows at Cadiz, uti­lizing the aquifer’s estimated 1 million acre-feet of storage capacity. Southern California water providers could move surplus wet-year water from either the Colorado River Aqueduct or the State Water Project via an abandoned natu­ral gas pipeline from Barstow to Cadiz, which we have purchased, and store it at Cadiz until the inevitable subsequent dry years. A “programmatic” environmen­tal review of Phase 2 was completed in 2012, meaning a preliminary evaluation of the concept, and a “project” level re­view must still be completed once Phase 1 gets underway.

Although the project’s concept may sound unique, the sustainable use of groundwater in California’s managed basins and the movement of water be­tween basins is not. Californians have a history of not living where the water is, and all seven Southern California counties rely on imports from the State Water Project, the Colorado River and neighboring basins to sustain their pop­ulations. Groundwater storage is also a preferred method of capturing excess flows in wet years and is becoming more common in California and the West.

To ensure that the project is a resource that helps meet Southern California’s water management needs, the project incorporates stringent groundwater management principles in its approved Groundwater Management Plan. The County of San Bernardino, which was viewed as the superior protector of desert groundwater resources during the recent controversy over the Soda Mountain solar generating station, will enforce the plan. Data on groundwater levels will be compiled, posted for the public, and reviewed by an independent committee appointed by the county. If water levels fall below a county-desig­nated floor, or if there’s evidence of un­anticipated impacts on the desert envi­ronment, the county can adjust or even stop operations.

This Groundwater Management Plan grew out of recommendations by some of the nation’s leading hydrologists and scientists as they peer-reviewed the Cadiz EIR’s hydrological study. The study used the US Geological Survey’s newest and best computer model for desert hydrology in the Southwestern U.S., created in 2006, to estimate the aquifer system’s size (over 20 million acre-feet, about the size of Lake Mead) and how much water flows into it annu­ally (its recharge rate, found to be about 32,000 acre-feet a year). To verify the computer model’s calculation of the system’s recharge rate, we asked scien­tists from the Desert Research Institute to measure evaporation from the Bristol and Cadiz dry lakes, where all the wa­ter in the aquifer ends up, completing the water cycle. The amount of water going in should equal the amount of water evaporating out, and that is what the study verified – the volumes are the same.

The project’s EIR and Groundwater Management Plan withstood court chal­lenges over four years and emerged with no changes or additional studies ordered. With these court challenges behind us, we are working to implement the project and initiate Phase II’s water storage component so we can deliver on our promises of sustainable water sup­ply and economic benefits. Developing sustainable projects in California takes time, but when done right they can be useful for all in dry and wet years alike.

For more information, please visit:

www.CadizWaterProject.com.

General Water

Upper Narrows Emergency Pipeline Project was Unlike Any Other

Published by:

VVWRA

By Logan Olds General Manager, Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority

It’s safe to say that the Upper Narrows Emergency Pipeline project was unlike any other for the Vic­tor Valley Wastewa­ter Reclamation Authority.

When a series of powerful storms in late 2010 broke open a large sewer line, spilling 42 million gallons of sewage into the Mojave River, the stage was set for one of the largest and most important recent FEMA projects in California.

Over the next five years, planners, engineers and construction teams navigated complex technical and en­vironmental obstacles – first in lay­ing nearly 5,000 feet of temporary pipe, then designing and building a permanent solution that included tunneling under the streets of Old Town Victorville and under 270 feet of rock through an earthquake fault.

To serve Apple Valley, two 16-inch pipes were installed using direction­al drilling 40 feet below the Mojave River and under one of the busiest railroad lines in the nation.

The $41 million project was de­signed to keep the new pipe out of the river and away from other envi­ronmentally sensitive areas, but the challenges grew with each passing month. Many of these were impos­sible to anticipate – unusual geologi­cal formations, endangered speciesand archeological remains – but we had to persevere. The immediate and long-term public safety and well-being of the water of our region de­pended on it.

Now it seems we’re being made an example of – in the wrong way.

In recent weeks, stories have sur­faced questioning the project’s costs and accounting. These were based on a draft audit from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), claiming that VVWRA did not properly ac­count for and expend $31.7 million in FEMA grant funds.

To say that we were caught off guard by the report would be a massive un­derstatement. Only six months ear­lier, we were told that the audit was 95% complete and that our expenses and accounting were “generally ac­ceptable.”

While we appreciate the federal gov­ernment’s checks and balances, this particular audit trail leaves us baffled – because of what we were led to be­lieve and the nature of the pipeline project itself.

Even in the best of circumstances – never mind something as complex as Upper Narrows – it is not unusual for a major engineering project to come in more expensive than origi­nally thought because of unforeseen challenges. Tunneling projects often experience cost overruns in excess of 30%. With Upper Narrows the additional costs were less than half that – approximately 15%, or only 5% above the 10% contingency built into the project. It’s the only time, in fact, that a project we’ve managed has exceeded the standard 10% con­tingency, which speaks to both our excellent record of controlling costs and the unusual – and urgent – na­ture of the Upper Narrows project.

The extent of the damage – and the work required to fix it – was some­thing we could not have anticipated. We performed triage first and then maneuvered through unchartered territory to ensure the safety of the community we serve and the protec­tion of our groundwater and envi­ronment. Our teams used every type of boring technology in existence, outside of using explosives, includ­ing the use of a massive 80-inch bor­ing machine, smaller micro tunnel­ing machines, horizontal directional drilling, pipe ramming and open cut construction. In addition, 10 concrete manholes ranging from 48-96 inches in diameter were installed.

These were no small tasks – com­plicated even more by challenges beyond our control, such as the need to ensure that wetlands, critical habi­tat and endangered species such as the Least Bell’s Vireo would not be disrupted. The project required close collaboration with the Native Amer­ican community to ensure that any artifacts or remains were handled with great care with the railroads to ensure that the work being done beneath crossings was properly en­gineered, and that all appropriate special permits were secured. Even with the invaluable support of these groups and other stakeholders such as the Kemper-Campbell Ranch, The Lewis Center and the City of Victor­ville, the project was as daunting as any we’d ever encountered.

Along the way we went to great lengths to ensure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed when it came to spending and account­ing – and felt confident, based on our communications with auditors last March, that we had taken all ap­propriate steps. Recently, the Daily Press published a report referencing a transcript of that phone call – sug­gesting that any lingering questions the auditors might have had were small in nature.

We provided the auditors detailed answers to those questions and had no reason to believe that anything was wrong.

We still don’t, which is why we find ourselves scratching our heads over the draft audit we received six months later.

Whatever the internal dynamics are within OIG and FEMA, we stand ready to defend how this critically important project was managed and accounted for.

General Water

Cadiz Inc Continues Work to Provide California Much-Needed New Water

Published by:

By Courtney Degener, Vice President, Communications & Investor Relations A part of the Cadiz team for over 12 years

The Mojave Desert’s Cadiz Valley in eastern San Bernardino County, Cali­fornia, is a hot, dry place. The sandy soil supports only sparse, low brush well adapted to the hot dry climate where summer temperatures reach up to 120 degrees. It’s just about the last place you’d go looking for water.

But in the 1980s, our Company found­ers did just that. Guided by early NASA satellite imagery, they postulated that the unique geology of the Cadiz Val­ley, which is about the size of Rhode Island, could indicate that groundwater had been collecting under the soil for millennia. We purchased land, drilled exploratory wells and, indeed, found plentiful, high-quality groundwater.

Later modeling and field work would show the Cadiz aquifer system holds as much as 34 million acre-feet of wa­ter – more than 11 trillion gallons and an amount equal in volume to Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. Our wells have been prolific, or as one drill­ing contractor said during field work in 2010, “based on 43 years of experience – I’ve been involved with hundreds, possibly thousands, of drilling projects – and without a doubt (Cadiz well) TW1 was the most productive production well I’ve ever been involved with.”

Over time we continued our land acqui­sition and began to farm, relying upon this groundwater for irrigation. Today we are the largest private landowner in San Bernardino County, with 45,000 acres and a sustainable farming operation of aquifer-watered lemon orchards and vineyards that provide a lush green spot in the sparse Mojave landscape.

Creating an Environmentally Benign Water Project

In the 1990s as California’s population grew and the State’s water supplies in­creasingly came under pressure, we also started considering the potential to make our property available for a water supply and groundwater storage project. Givenour proximity to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which carries water from the river to 19 million people from Ventura County to San Diego County, both the supply and storage concepts proved feasible. The plan has evolved with the times. Once envisioned as a groundwa­ter storage-focused project in partner­ship with the Metropolitan Water Dis­trict of Southern California, today the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Re­covery and Storage Project is smaller in scale and scope than earlier envisioned, but remained focused on a pledge to do no harm to the environment.

The project, which will be implemented in two phases, will actively manage the groundwater basin underlying our prop­erty to create a new reliable water sup­ply for Southern California, as well as a new opportunity for groundwater stor­age. The first phase will capture approx­imately 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year–enough for 400,000 people –from a wellfield on the Cadiz property and deliver that water via a pipeline to the Colorado River Aqueduct and then to local communities throughout South­ern California. Over the 50 year life of the project, only 3-6% of water in stor­age would be withdrawn and this water would be replenished over time. Ac­cording to Anthony Brown, M.Sc. En­gineering & Hydrology, who conducted an independent peer review of the proj­ect’s science, “given the low amount of proposed pumping relative to the significant size of the basin, the Cadiz project can be intelligently managed to provide a new beneficial use without any harm.”

“Conservation” is a critical part of the project’s name and objectives because all of the water in the Cadiz aquifer presently flows to desert dry lake pla­yas, where it turns ten times saltier than the ocean and evaporates. Without the project, over 10 trillion gallons of water are lost every year. The project aims to manage these outflows to the dry lakes and create integrity in the aquifer system so that in a second phase we can utilize its immense storage capacity to hold up to one million acre-feet of imported wet-year water from the Colorado River or State Water Project until needed in subsequent dry years.

When designing the project, protecting the environment was a top priority, and we worked with our project partners, San Bernardino County and best-in-class ex­perts, to ensure the project would do no harm. We plan to build our pipeline in a disturbed railroad right-of-way, rather than crossing undisturbed federal land to ensure no species are impacted. We have also committed to an 80-foot hard floor on groundwater withdrawals for the avoidance of doubt about water re­source impacts. The project includes an extensive, prescient groundwater man­agement plan regulated by the county to enforce our commitments.

Public Review & Approval

In July 2012 the project received ap­proval under California’s rigorous en­vironmental laws–generally regarded as the most protective in the nation. The Environmental Impact Report was prepared and certified, after extensive public review, by Santa Margarita Wa­ter District (SMWD). Nine water agen­cies from across the region, including SMWD, have signed up to purchase the water made available by the project. San Bernardino County, which oversees groundwater at the project area, served as a Responsible Agency in the project and separately approved the project and the management plan in October 2012.

As occurs so frequently with large projects in California, litigation fol­lowed. Cadiz, SMWD and San Ber­nardino jointly defended challenges to the project’s approvals. Some lawsuits were dropped early on and several went to trial. In 2014 all of the project’s ap­provals and environmental documents were upheld without any changes. As expected, opponents appealed these rul­ings and the matters are now before the California Court of Appeals. We remain confident in the thorough environmen­tal review conducted in accordance with California’s tough environmental laws and are optimistic the Appeals Court will uphold the 2014 trial court deci­sions.

A Big Boost for the Local Economy

As it has waded through the CEQA pro­cess and now CEQA litigation, the need for the project has not diminished and the state’s unpredictable hydrological cycles have only made it clearer that a groundwater supply and storage proj­ect in Southern California would be a benefit to the entire system. Southern California economic consulting firm Stratecon Inc. recently valued the water supply, storage, and water quality ben­efits attributable to the project at $6.1 billion. These benefits would not only be realized by Project subscribers, but experienced by all water users throughout the entire region, which has faced significant water rate increases over the last 10 years.

In addition to tremendous water supply benefits, the project is also expected to create needed jobs and local investment. The $250 million project, which we will privately finance, will create and sup­port over 1,500 jobs per year of con­struction and generate nearly a billion dollars in economic activity. Under a pledge we made to the county, 80% of the capital investment will be dedicated to San Bernardino County-based busi­nesses and 50% of the jobs to county-based workers, including 10% to local veterans.

Next steps…

To reach construction and implementa­tion, we must still complete three pri­mary tasks: (1) resolve the outstanding appeals of the CEQA permits; (2) re­solve a dispute with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over ac­cess to the railroad right-of-way for our conveyance pipeline; and, (3) complete final contracts for the water. We expect the appeals will be decided this summer and the contracts are expected to follow. Thanks to the support of a broad bi-par­tisan delegation of California Congres­sional members, we are in dialogue with the BLM about how we can resolve our dispute and reach a final path forward for the pipeline.

While we continue to believe that the water project would be the highest and best use of our properties and resources, we also recognize that water in Califor­nia is a tough business and can take a long time. Therefore, we’ve also recent­ly announced plans to expand farming operations in Cadiz so we can put our most valuable asset to work while we continue to pursue the water project.

The initial expansion will expand farm­ing on 2,100 acres and ultimately could reach 9,600 acres, which would utilize an amount of water comparable to our Water Project permits. Our agricultural partners will install water and energy infrastructure that later will be used by the project once final approvals are received. The well-field infrastructure and related improvements required for agriculture are substantially similar to water project infrastructure, so they can be fully integrated into the project once it is permitted.

As a long-time desert business, whether pursuing agriculture or water supply development at the property, we also intend to maintain a variety of legacy commitments in Cadiz, including a tour­ist-based steam train, cultural center, kit fox research, and the largest desert tor­toise land mitigation bank in California. We are more than the water project, and as our CEO, Scott Slater, reminds our team regularly, we will always do proj­ects that our kids can be proud of.

General Water

MWA Offers Assistance to Small Water Providers

Published by:

By Yvonne Hester, Community Liaison Officer

As California continues to experience year five of a statewide drought, hopes of a saving El Niño continue to elude the Golden State. Here in the High Des­ert, periods of drought are part of the na­tive climate, requiring the Mojave Wa­ter Agency to continually monitor and invest in plans and programs to ensure water for today and tomorrow. Among the Agency’s newest programs is the Small Systems Assistance Program (SSAP) that has been named as a finalist for an award of excellence from the As­sociation of California Water Agencies.

During the past two decades, MWA in­vested heavily in large capital projects such as pipelines and recharge facilities, but today the focus is on optimization of resources, thanks to community in­put during the 2014 Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. Increased par­ticipation in the plan’s process resulted in the committee ranking assistance for disadvantaged communities as a top pri­ority.

Unlike the larger water providers, re­sources are scarce for the small provid­ers. The new program was developed to assist disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged small water systems that lack staff, expertise, and funding to address both water quality and reliability. While the MWA region is served by 10 large water purveyors, there are also some 40 smaller systems that provide water to homes and businesses.

Residents living in disadvantaged com­munities deserve quality water, but of­ten maintaining infrastructure is costly. Many of the small systems have pipe­lines, pumps, and storage reservoirs that are 30-50 years old, resulting in a variety of water-quality issues. Many of the small water systems are challenged with naturally occurring and manmade water quality issues, including arsenic, fluoride, and Chromimum-6.

In an effort to address these concerns, a committee formed by the IRWM Plan Project team was formed, and the MWA Board of Directors approved an initial $200,000.00 program budget for a con­tract with the California Rural Water Association to provide small water sys­tems expertise. Under the MWA Small Water Systems Assistance Program, a local expert was made available to dis­cuss containment solutions including consolidation of two or more systems, blending water, or well head treatment.

As a result of the MWA program, a number of grants for small systems were submitted, and Gordon Acres Mutual Water Company in Lucerne Valley re­ceived a grant of $468,000.00 from the State Water Resources Control Board. These funds will help develop a water system plan to address insufficient de­livery, water outages, and water quality violations.

Other small water systems in the re­gion also have received assistance from the program. All requesting water systems have received on-site assistance for technical, managerial and financial challenges, as well as need assessments, leak detection audits, conservation plan assistance, and rate studies. MWA also has provided 10 free workshops and has made available wastewater expert help.

For more information on this pro­gram, contact Mojave Water Agency at 760.946.7000.

2016 High Desert Water Summit to Feature State and Local Experts

Winner of Student Essay Contest Also Featured

“Predicting Our Future by Our Own De­sign” was the theme of the 2016 High Desert Water Summit held April 13 at the Barstow Community College Per­forming Arts Center. Each speaker fo­cused on key issues and resources that serve to shape the region’s water fu­ture. Speakers included Dr. Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, based in Los Angeles. He provided an economic and population profile of the region. Ellen Hanak, Senior Fellow and Director of the Public Policy Institute Water Policy Center in San Francisco, provided a statewide overview of water management issues, as well as climate challenges. Addition­ally, Lance Eckhart, MWA Director of Basin Management and Water Resourc­es, presented water supply and demand projections included in the current up­date of the Regional Urban Water Man­agement Plan.

Also Enrique Arcilla, the 15-year-old essay contest winner, a sophomore at the Academy for Academic Excellence in Apple Valley, presented his essay titled “The Path to Sustainability” at the April 13 event. As the winner, Arcilla received a $5,000 scholarship.

The Water Summit ran from 7:15 to 11:30 a.m. on April 13 at the Barstow Community College Preforming Arts Center. The campus is located at 2700 Barstow Road.

The cost for the event was just $10 and included a full breakfast buffet.

General Water

Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority’s Apple Valley and Hesperia Subregional Reclamation Plants Scheduled for Completion in Early 2017

Published by:

Victor Valley Wastewater Reclama­tion Authority is so much more than a wastewater treatment plant. VVWRA is more like a resource recovery facil­ity that protects public health by taking the incoming waste and transforming it into something useful. With the help of nearly $200 million in capital proj­ects, funded in part by more than $71 million in grants, along with forward thinking planning and management, VVWRA creates millions of gallons per day of clean recycled water, gener­ates sustainable green energy and pro­duces high nutrient bio-solids that are used for land application. But it wasn’t always like this. In the last ten years, VVWRA has gone from a facility that was essentially dead and facing mul­tiple water quality violations, to a plant that is recognized as a leader in both the renewable energy and wastewater industries.

When Logan Olds took over as General Manager of VVWRA in 2006, he had no idea of the headaches he inherited. But it soon became apparent the plant was not operating properly and the vi­olations were piling up. And to make matters worse, VVWRA was broke. A wastewater plant is essentially a large living organism that if not operating properly can get sick and die. With that grim picture, VVWRA was in its death throes, but tough decisions made by innovative managers helped turn this once struggling utility around. To­day, VVWRA has 46 employees and stands on the verge of revolutionizing an evolving industry.

Grants have played a big part in VVWRA’s many capital projects. Thanks to more than $71 million dol­lars in grants, VVWRA has launched an industry leading waste to energy program, made massive repairs to the sewer interceptor through the Upper Mojave Narrows and started construc­tion on two water recycling facilities VVWRA is the Victor Valley’s single largest piece of public infrastructure. The main plant in Victorville is more than 400 acres, with 42 miles of sewer line interceptors throughout the val­ley. VVWRA serves the businesses and residents in Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Spring Valley Lake and Oro Grande. With construction of subregional water reclamation plants in Apple Valley and Hesperia, VVWRA is switching from a regional treatment model to a distributed treatment model. Currently, all wastewater is treated at the main VVWRA plant in Victorville. The new subregionals will allow for treatment of wastewater closer to the source, while all solids will continue to the main plant to produce energy. The benefits are two fold; first, it ex­pands VVWRA’s capacity in the in­terceptors, which will help delay the need for extremely expensive upgrades at the Victorville plant; secondly, the subregionals will supply a new source of reliable recycled water within those communities. When completed in early 2017, each of these facilities will pro­vide up to one million gallons of re­cycled water per day for above-ground irrigation in Apple Valley and Hespe­ria. The recycled water in Apple Valley will be piped to the Apple Valley Golf Course where it will be used to water the grounds. Similarly, the recycled water in Hesperia will be used at the Hesperia Golf Course and to irrigate the grounds at Civic Plaza. The combined planning and construction cost for the subregionals is estimated at $80 million dollars. That is a lot of money. However, VVWRA and its member agencies have managed to obtain $21 million dollars in grants, which essentially reduces the overall cost by 26 percent. That saves local communities and residents money. And from an economic standpoint, the subregionals will also provide VVWRA with more interceptor capacity, which means the Victor Valley can accom­modate growth throughout the area.

VVWRA has become known industry-wide for its groundbreaking Waste to Energy program, a program where nat­urally occurring methane, also known as biogas, is created at the plant and used to generate electricity. The pro­gram has been made possible by a com­bination of grants, Southern California Edison incentive rebates, and a unique public/private partnership that resulted in no additional cost to rate payers. VVWRA teamed with Anaergia Inc. to build the Omnivore system. Anaergia’s proprietary recuperative thickener was connected to a retrofitted, formerly decommissioned anaerobic digester. The result has been a dramatic increase in the production of bio-gas. VVWRA is collecting the bio-gas produced by Om­nivore, as well as the other digesters on the site, and is using it to fuel a pair of 800 kwh 2G generators. This elimi­nates the need for expensive natural gas that was previously used to power equipment. The 2G generators are ca­pable of producing enough electricity to meet all VVWRA power needs, es­sentially making the plant carbon and energy neutral. In addition, VVWRA has a long term power agreement with Anaergia, locking in that power at a much lower rate than traditional electri­cal service. Plans are also in the works for installation of a microgrid and bat­tery system that would allow VVWRA to store and supply itself with a more reliable stream of green energy. This project is being paid for entirely by a state grant from the California Energy Commission. VVWRA foresees a time in the future that they could even ex­port power to the grid. While there are still a few legislative and technical ob­stacles to make that happen, VVWRA management believes this is a prom­ising source of green power that could have a huge impact on power genera­tion both here in the US and globally.

One of the biggest challenges VVWRA has faced over the last ten years came in December of 2010 when a series of heavy storms severely damaged the main sewer line in the Upper Mojave Narrows. The incident was declared a Federal emergency and a temporary emergency bypass line was installed in just 9 days. Since that time, VVWRA has been working with engineers and construction teams to build a permanent sewer line that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in the Upper Narrows. This project has proven to be costly and dangerous. After a number of unforeseen setbacks and design changes, the project is nearly completed. It’s estimated it will cost $41 million dollars by the time it is completed in mid-2016. However, the vast majority of that ex­pense is being picked up by the Fed­eral Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with just a small percentage being the responsibility of VVWRA’s member agencies and ratepayers.

VVWRA has also made a number of improvements to its regional plant in recent years, including installation of a state of the art Aqua Diamond fil­tering system and an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection building. UV disinfection is now the final step for the recycled water before it is released into the Mo­jave River. UV disinfection uses powerful lights to essentially disinfect any remaining organisms, making it impos­sible for them to reproduce. The UV system has allowed VVWRA to stop using chemicals like chlorine to disin­fect the recycled water.

The many projects that VVWRA has embarked on in recent years have been focused on two issues: to protect public health and the environment. The better VVWRA is able to do that, whether through technological improvements or repairs and upgrades, the better it is able to serve and protect our commu­nity. Secondly, VVWRA has made a conscious effort to seek the best solu­tions for problems now and anticipate issues related to growth in the future. They have done that with the goal of keeping costs down as much as possi­ble. VVWRA has aggressively sought out grants, alternative funding, rebates and public\private partnerships to pro­vide the Victor Valley with the best possible service at the most reason­able price. Wastewater is something that most people don’t think about, but VVWRA takes its job very seriously and is dedicated to keeping the public’s trust.

General Water

Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Stormwater Program

Published by:

By Patty Z. Kouyoumdjian, Executive Officer

The Lahontan Regional Water Qual­ity Control Board, known as the La­hontan Water Board, is a state agency whose mission is to protect surface and groundwater uses for current and future benefit of all Californians. The board has seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Staff offices are located in South Lake Tahoe and Victorville.

Implementing a number of federal and state regulatory programs, board decisions directly or indirectly affect most all residents within the Lahon­tan Region. The Lahontan Region encompasses the Great Basin portion of California. It extends from Ore­gon south to the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains and eastward from the crest of the Sierra Nevadas to Nevada. Within San Bernardino County, numerous board actions are taken to protect and improve the state’s waters. This article’s focus is the Stormwater Program.

Stormwater Program Requirements

Statewide general orders (e.g. permits) exist for three main stormwater pro­gram categories; industrial, construc­tion, and municipal. Permit links are on the State Water Resources Control Board website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/pro­grams/stormwater/. Coverage under all permits is obtained through the SMARTS database, which can be ac­cessed at that website.

Construction Activities

Construction permit coverage is re­quired for any land disturbance great­er than one acre. Note that disturbed area, not project size, is the governing factor. Additionally, project compo­nents forming a larger plan of devel­opment must be considered together. Minimizing sediment transport im­pacts is the primary permit objec­tive. For each project a site-specific Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, or SWPPP, must be prepared by a Qualified Stormwater Develop­er. It must identify appropriate Best Management Practices, or BMPs, that will be installed and maintained by a Qualified Stormwater Developer for both the construction and post-construction periods.

Porous concrete makes up part of a new parking lot in Victorville at Valley Hi Toyota (darker pavement)

Porous concrete makes up part of a new parking lot in Victorville at Valley Hi Toyota (darker pavement)

The water board’s key objective is en­suring that effective post-construction BMPs are in place at the time permit termination is granted. The permit requires that the post-construction runoff is equal to or less than pre-construction runoff and that runoff does not cause downstream effects, including erosion or modification of drainage patterns, swales or stream channels. A site-specific hydrology calculation must be done to verifythat the post-construction BMPs will be effective at meeting this requirement. While there are a wide range of BMPs that may be proposed, the Lahontan Water Board promotes BMPs appropriate to the arid high desert climate, using Low Impact Develop­ment, or LID, principles discussed below. Effective post-construction BMPs must be proposed in the proj­ect design. Numerous termination requests have been declined by the water board where post-construction BMPs were not in place. To speed the termination process, proponents should include photographs show­ing the periphery of the construc­tion site, especially runoff locations. Photographs of the interior drainage features, unless integral to post-construction BMPs such as prefabricated infiltration chambers, are less impor­tant.

Industrial Activities

Industrial permit coverage is required based on industry type or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. For manufacturing facilities cover­age is required for SIC codes 20XX through 39XX and 4221 through 4225. Permitted facilities must prepare and implement a SWPPP that identifies appropriate BMPs. The permit re­quires stormwater runoff sampling from Qualifying Storm Events. Staff has inspected many industries in the Victor Valley that have ineffective BMPs or conduct operations in or near ephemeral waterways, causing adverse effects to waters. Identifying and requesting modified practices and improved stormwater management will be the focus of future inspec­tions. The permit includes two new options for enrollees. A No Exposure Certification may be obtained if all industrial materials and activities areprotected by a storm-resistant shelter. A Notice of Non-Applicability signed by a registered professional engineer may be submitted if a facility is engi­neered to contain the maximum his­toric precipitation event or is located where there is no hydrologic connec­tion to waters of the United States.

Erosion in epheremal wash caused by concentrated urban run-off, Hesperia

Erosion in epheremal wash caused by concentrated urban run-off, Hesperia

Municipal Activities

Municipal permit coverage is re­quired for the Town of Apple Valley; Cities of Barstow, Hesperia, and Vic­torville, and portions of the County of San Bernardino. In addition to con­trolling pollutants in stormwater run­off from municipal activities (shops, yards, streets, etc.), municipalities must adopt ordinances providing le­gal authority to control pollutants (in­cluding sediment) into and from the municipal storm system. Other program areas include public outreach and education, illicit discharge identi­fication and elimination, construction site controls, and post-construction BMP requirements. The permit re­quires new projects to capture stormwater from the 85 percentile 24-hour precipitation event. Effective main­tenance is the key to ensure post-con­struction BMPs continue to protect water quality.

Low Impact Development, Stream and Wetland Impacts

In the earliest project design phase, applicants should assess and evalu­ate how site con­ditions such as soils, vegetation, and flow paths should be consid­ered in the placement of buildings and impervious surfaces to re­duce adverse im­pacts to surface flow paths, water quality and wild­life habitat. Envi­ronmental docu­ments should identify how the project incorpo­rates Low Impact Development, or LID, principles to protect water qual­ity. The High Desert has unique rain­fall and stormwater runoff patterns. LID practices should be cus­tomized for each individual site to preserve pre-develop­ment hydrology by limiting impervious surfaces (i.e, pav­ing), promoting stormwater infiltration, minimizing land disturbance, and incorporat­ing structural BMPs such as pervious pavement, infiltra­tion galleries, energy dissipa­tion, etc. Water board staff have observed many older projects have radically alteredthe ephemeral wash downstream en­vironment by increasing runoff ve­locities and volumes, causing exces­sive sediment erosion and sediment deposition in lower-lying areas, bury­ing wildlife and riparian habitat. In­corporating LID principles in future new and redevelopment projects will protect and improve our unique des­ert environment and water quality for our future.

Proposition 1 Grant Funding Resources

A new opportunity to obtain storm­water project funding is available through Proposition 1 grants. This requires applications to reference an adopted Stormwater Resources Man­agement Plan that identifies projects on a watershed basis. That plan may become a component of the Mojave Water Agency’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan and can be used to support grant requests. The water board encourages local munici­palities to cooperate and cost share in preparing this plan.

General Water

Science: a Key to Water Management

Published by:

By Mojave Water Agency

California’s ongoing drought is just one factor in a complex equation of a changing water environment. With new state groundwater regulations, as well as stricter conservation measures, developing innovative and cost-effective solutions will require more than funding. It will require solid science data that will create greater consensus to develop long-term solutions.

The Mojave Water Agency’s second annual Water Summit turns the focus on “Science: The Key to Managing Water in a Changing World.” The event will be held April 8 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville. The event is sponsored by the Mojave Water Agency and the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The half-day program will feature the Governor’s top groundwater leader, Gordon Burns, Undersecretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency. Burns was appointed by Brown in December 2011 and has been heavily involved in water policy. He has been a leader on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—the Governor’s recent landmark groundwater legislation that will provide a framework for local entities to more effectively manage groundwater resources.

The program also will feature presentations demonstrating the use of sound science in developing Urban Water Management Plans that provide critical data for future development. Additionally, the program will explore the role of science in accurately assessing local water supplies and developing new programs for future growth.

The program includes a full buffet breakfast and costs $10 per person in addition to a processing fee. For more information contact the Mojave Water Agency at 760.946.7000. To register for the Water Summit, click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/high-desert-water-summit-tickets-15715365080

The Mojave Water Agency manages the region’s water resources for the common benefit to assure stability in the sustained use for its citizens. It is one of 29 State Water Contractors entitled to receive State Water Project water when available. The Agency’s territory encompasses 4,900 squares miles with a population of 450,000.

General Water

MWA Groundwater Recharge Strategies and Other Programs Ensure Sustainability During Statewide Drought

Published by:

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.

General Water

High Desert Communities Focus on Water Projects and Program with an Eye to the Future

Published by:

By Yvonne Hester
Community Liaison Officer
Mojave Water Agency

A new spirit of cooperation among the High Desert communities, evidenced in recent joint marketing efforts, bodes well for planning water projects and programs for the Mojave Desert. An update of the 2004 Mojave Integrated Regional Water Management (MIR­WM) Plan is underway, and offers communities new opportunities to plan for water needs.

Leading this effort is the Regional Wa­ter Management Group comprised of the Mojave Water Agency (MWA), Victor Valley Wastewater Reclama­tion Authority, Mojave Desert Re­source Conservation District, Morongo Baseline Pipeline Commission, and the Technical Advisory Committee to MWA.

The planning process is a collaborative, stakeholder-driven effort to manage all aspects of water resources in the region and set a vision for the next 10-plus years of water management in the High Desert. During this process, partici­pants will discuss water supplies, wa­ter quality, flood management, water rights, water resources, and more.

As the agency charged with ensuring sustainable water supplies in the re­gion, Mojave Water Agency carries out the plans and programs recommended in the MIRWM Plan.The first integrat­ed plan yielded huge dividends for the High Desert region. Over the last 10 years $170 million in local, state, and federal dollars have been invested in lo­cal water infrastructure and water sup­plies. This included the construction of pipelines and groundwater recharge sites, investment in new water supplies, development of an aggressive water conservation program, and removal of invasive species in the Mojave River.

Among these projects is the recent completion of the Regional, Recharge and Recovery Project, called R3. This project delivers State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct in Hesperia to recharge sites along the Mojave River in Hesperia and south­ern Apple Valley. Production wells, owned by MWA, on either side of the Mojave River located immediately downstream of the recharge area will then recover and deliver the stored wa­ter through pipelines directly to retail water agencies. This $53 million proj­ect was constructed with more than $21 million in Proposition 50 IRWM funds. These funds, combined with federal grants and an MWA match, made the construction of this project possible.

The R3 Project is an excellent ex­ample of a conjunctive use–one that coordinates the use of surface water and groundwater supplies to maximize the yield of the overall water resource. Another key strategy used in the MWA water portfolio is conservation.

“Cash for Grass,” the Agency’s most successful water conservation pro­gram, also received $2 million in Prop­osition 84 funds as a result of the last integrated plan. The program offers customers a rebate of fifty cents per square foot for living and maintained turf that is removed and replaced with desert friendly landscaping. Residen­tial customers may receive a rebate up to $3,000 and commercial/industrial/institutional customers up to $10,000. To date, more than 3,200 projects have been completed with participants receiving some $2 million in direct rebates. In a service area of approxi­mately 450,000 residents, more than638 gallons per capita is being saved each year and this figure continues to grow.

Much progress has been made in the High Desert region, but statewide wa­ter issues affect availability. Success­ful integrated planning will yield new projects and programs for the region that will help MWA further reduce reli­ance on imported water from the Delta, and create a sustainable water supply.

While the Mojave Water Agency is responsible for managing the region’s water supply, successful plans reflect input from the entire region. During this planning process a number of op­portunities to participate are available. The next Technical Advisory Commit­tee meeting is June 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Mojave Water Agency located at 13846 Conference Center Drive, Ap­ple Valley. Additionally, a number of public meetings are being held through the region. For more information on the plan or any of the public meetings, call 760.946.7000 or visit www.mywa­terplan.com

General Water

Mojave Water Agency is Ahead of the Curve in Reliable Fiscal and Program Policies

Published by:

By Tamara Alaniz
Mojave Water Agency

Responsible water management policies require sensible and transparent fiscal management processes. Securing water rights, building delivery infrastructure, and maintaining intricate systems of pipelines, pumps and pressure valves are all long-term projects requiring long-term capital funding procurement and coalition-building to secure a stable and sustainable supply of high quality water for the High Desert.

The Mojave Water Agency Board and staff work year-round to be forward-thinking, anticipating trends in policies affecting both water and economics. Combined with a conservative fiscal approach, the timing of MWA Board decisions has resulted in many science-based solutions to critical issues before they affect the region. This approach has suited our stakeholders well by positioning the agency to develop and fund regionally-appropriate policies and programs, both in preparation for leaner property tax revenues and anticipation of state/ federal government requirements.

The approach used to develop solutions, propose them to the Board for adoption and implement adopted policies stems from our cyclical outlook on regional water management and program/project funding needs. This process is largely driven by the development of the agency’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP). These multi-agency, regional plans are developed in cooperation with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a stakeholder-driven group comprised of local water districts, resource management agencies, and other affected stakeholders from the MWA service area.

As the needs of the region are assessed by the TAC and MWA Board, projects emerge and programmatic and economic analyses are performed in order to prioritize projects inside of the plan. As financing options are explored and developed, an action plan of implementation is created and ultimately executed, completing the fiscal planning and capital expenditure cycle used by the Agency.

MWA has re-entered that cycle again, with over $120 million now invested in capital projects identified from the last round of planning. These investments include the Regional Recharge and Recovery Project, Oro Grande Wash Recharge Project, Water Conservation Incentive Program, Invasive Species Removal Program, Joshua Basin Recharge Project, Ames/Reche Groundwater Storage and Recovery Program/Management Agreement, and others. Despite a 26% decline in property tax revenues, reserves remain strong and the agency is well positioned to identify and prioritize more current, innovative opportunities for future regional water management actions.

Many examples of successful economic and programmatic results from this forward-thinking approach are below:

  • The development and adoption of the MWA 2004 Regional Water Management Plan was done in close cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and local stakeholders, helping to secure over $50 million in grant funding between 2004 and 2012 toward the water management projects identified in the previous paragraph.
  • Regional conservation actions toward a goal of reducing gallons per capita per day (gpcd) water usage by 20% before the year 2020 was adopted in early 2004, over five years before the state mandated its incorporation into the 2009 Legislative Water Package (SB7x et al.); and the High Desert region is well on its way to reaching that goal.
  • A Five-Year Strategic Financial Plan was adopted in 2005, setting a course for securing grant funding awards and the match funding needed for their receipt. By identifying capital project funding approaches and grant eligibility needs, this plan gave the agency a “leg up” when it came to procuring funding partnerships.
  • To responsibly pay for and deliver available imported water supplies for groundwater banking, the agency adopted its Groundwater Banking Policy in 2006, establishing thresholds and direction for anticipating, saving and spending on groundwater recharge supplies before they become available for purchase.
  • MWA invests in future imported supplies with long-term sustainability in mind, thus the 2009 purchase of an additional 14,000 acre-feet of imported water supplies from the State Water Project. Regional economic strength will continue to rely upon stable water supplies – including imported supplies. Identifying demands and investing in their delivery has helped to situate the High Desert with a high quality of life for residents in a business-friendly climate.
  • In 2012, the construction and operation of both R-cubed and the Oro Grande Wash Recharge Project are current examples of regional water management solutions derived from the IRWMP process. These projects provide a more sustainable water supply for the communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and unincorporated San Bernardino County.

As the process for IRWMP development continues, we invite stakeholders and water users in the High Desert to participate with us in the planningprocess. Watch for TAC meetings on both Facebook and the Board and Committee meeting calendar on our website to keep up-to-date on opportunities to participate in this important process.

For more information on Mojave Water Agency or to speak with our highly qualified staff about your water management questions, we can be reached by telephone at (760) 946-7000. You can check out our website at www.mojavewater.org, or catch us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mojavewater.

Mojave Water Agency is one of 29 State Water Project contractors with access to water from the California Aqueduct. As the only wholesaler in the region, we import high quality water supplies and recharge our groundwater supplies, securing a stable and sustainable supply for the 4,900 square miles of High Desert we serve.