MWDSC approves agreement for groundwater storage project in eastern L.A. County

A groundwater project that ultimately will store nearly 1 billion gallons for eastern Los Angeles County cities and communities to use during dry years today became the latest in a series of Southland projects to receive statewide bond funds granted to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California...

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- A groundwater project that ultimately will store nearly 1 billion gallons for eastern Los Angeles County cities and communities to use during dry years today became the latest in a series of Southland projects to receive statewide bond funds granted to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Following the Metropolitan Board of Directors' approval, Chairman Wes Bannister and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Underwood joined officials from Claremont-based Three Valleys Municipal Water District in signing a 25-year agreement to store water in an aquifer underlying the north Claremont area.

The project will receive nearly $1.23 million of the $45 million Metropolitan was given by the state from 2000's Proposition 13 to help develop groundwater storage in Southern California. Three Valleys, which serves an area spanning the Pomona and Walnut valleys and the eastern portion of the San Gabriel Valley, will provide another $1.45 million to the $2.68 million project.

"This partnership demonstrates a fundamental enhancement in Metropolitan's resource management strategy by focusing on projects that store water when supplies are plentiful for times when they are not," Bannister said. "Every drop of water stored by this project frees up an additional drop of water for the rest of the region during dry times."

Underwood said groundwater storage plays an essential role in helping the region maintain dependable water supplies, particularly during dry years, and helps provide continued reliability over the next 20 years.

"Groundwater storage allows water agencies to hedge their bets against the state's unpredictable climate, as well as against any uncertainties regarding our imported water sources," Underwood said.

Today's agreement permits Metropolitan, in cooperation with Three Valleys and the Six Basin Watermaster, to store up to 3,000 acre-feet of water in the Upper Claremont Heights Basin during wet periods and withdraw 1,000 acre-feet for each of three consecutive years for dry spells, droughts or emergencies. (An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, about the amount of water used by two typical Southern California families in and around their home in a year.)

Richard Hansen, Three Valleys general manager, said the Upper Claremont Heights project was the third local project to receive Prop. 13 funds. In October 2002, Metropolitan's board approved another project with Three Valleys and the city of La Verne to provide up to 3,000 acre-feet of storage in the Live Oak Basin. In June 2003, Metropolitan's board approved a storage project in the Chino Basin, which included participation by Three Valleys and the city of Pomona.

"The cost-sharing approach of developing local projects is a needed and necessary way of enhancing Southern California's water supply reliability," Hansen said. "This approach assists us in meeting our infrastructure needs and makes all the difference in the world in getting a project constructed. It also ensures that the truly viable project is constructed in the right time frame and the right size."

The latest Three Valleys project calls for a new well to be constructed in Claremont, and a pipeline to the nearby San Antonio Spreading Grounds. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2006.

"Not only is this project a good test of the value of groundwater storage as part of an overall Southern California water management plan, it shows the benefit of Metropolitan's member public agencies working together toward a common goal," said David D. De Jesus, who represents Three Valleys on Metropolitan's 37-member board.

In addition to the three projects involving Three Valleys, Metropolitan's other Prop. 13 programs are with the city of Long Beach and Central Basin Municipal Water District; Foothill Municipal Water District; the Chino Basin Watermaster; the Inland Empire Utilities Agency; the Municipal Water District of Orange County along with the Orange County Water District; and the city of Compton.

To learn more about Metropolitan and the role groundwater storage projects like Three Valleys' will play in Southern California's water future, visit MWD's Web site at mwdh2o.com.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.

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