A $51 million state grant awarded to an Inland Empire water agency will facilitate a major increase in pumping capacity from desalinization plants that supply millions of gallons of water to portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, it was recently announced.
The California Department of Public Health is providing the funds to the Riverside-based Western Municipal Water District as part of a Proposition 50 program titled “Southern California Projects to Reduce Demand on Colorado River Water.”
“Receiving a grant of this size shows how critical water supply stability is to our region’s future,” said WMWD board member Charles D. Field.
“It’s a significant contribution toward a secure local water supply.”
The funds will be applied to the Chino I and Chino II desalter facilities’ expansion project. The desalters, located in Chino Hills, currently supply 24,600 acre-feet of drinking water to Chino, Jurupa Valley, Norco and Ontario annually, according to the WMWD.
Desalters remove salt, dissolved minerals and other deposits from groundwater to make it potable. The plants are pumping 24 million gallons of water daily, officials said.
According to the WMWD, a multi-stage $130 million expansion effort is underway, and the state grant will translate to an additional 10 million
gallons of provided to more than 1.5 million people each day.
“Most of the water we get in our region comes from hundreds of miles away via the California Bay-Delta or Colorado River,” said Harvey Sullivan, president of the Chino Basin Desalter Authority.
“The long-term reliability of these supplies has been greatly reduced in recent years,” he said. “This project, as well as future water sustainability ventures, will put us on a track to reduce the amount of water we receive from these imported water sources. It also creates local jobs.”
The WMWD, the CBDA and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency are working together on the project.
Roughly 60 percent of the water used countywide is piped in from outside the region.