[Highland, CA], [June 13, 2023] – Over 30 years in the making, regional agencies celebrated the groundbreaking of the latest water infrastructure and environmental preservation project in the San Bernardino Valley. The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District, Riverside Public Utilities, and the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District held a joint groundbreaking ceremony on June 2, 2023, for the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Phase 1B project. This momentous occasion represents a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts to enhance regional water supply reliability while simultaneously preserving and enhancing habitat for multiple endangered species.
"Infrastructure projects of this magnitude require a complex collaboration between technical engineering, environmental stewardship, funding commitments, and regulatory approvals. The partnerships in the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge project demonstrate the power of collaboration to address our region's water challenges,” said Paul Kielhold, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Board President.
The Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Phase 1B partner agencies have united their resources, expertise, and shared commitment to enhance water supply reliability within critical endangered species habitat. Phase 1B aims to bolster the regional water supply infrastructure and provide long-term sustainability for the communities within the region.
“Wet winters like the one we have experienced, highlight the need for preparation. We need infrastructure, like these recharge basins, to capture storm water when it is available during the wet years to have reliable water supplies during the dry periods,” said Craig Miller, General Manager of Western Municipal Water District.
The Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge project exemplifies the dedication and perseverance of the project partners in their pursuit of water supply reliability and environmental sustainability. Once completed this project will expand current recharge facilities and allow for up to an additional 80,000 acre-feet per year of recharge in the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, a source of supply for over 700,000 people.
“Working together, we have put sustainable practices in place that create a balance between the protection of endangered and diverse species and the enhanced recharge of groundwater in the Santa Ana River Basin,” said Betsy Miller Vixie San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District General Manager. “This has been achieved by employing new technologies and advanced ecological engineering to long-established practices of working with nature to store our water.”
The groundbreaking ceremony included representatives from the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District, Riverside Public Utilities, and the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District to celebrate this significant milestone. During the program, Tommy Beaudreau with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior provided a video message to the audience commending the partner agencies for their collaborative approach to regional projects and creative solutions to protect species such as the San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat. Additionally, Representative Pete Aguilar highlighted the importance of water infrastructure projects and the positive impact this project will have on the region.
“The successful completion of the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Phase 1B groundbreaking ceremony represents not only a momentous occasion but also a symbol of hope and progress in the realms of water supply reliability and environmental conservation,” said Heather Dyer, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District CEO/ General Manager. The project partners remain committed to the successful completion of the project, ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for the communities they serve.
Groundbreaking Ceremony. Project partners commemorate the groundbreaking of the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Phase 1B.
Event. Event attendees gather at an overlook on the future recharge location which will ultimately increase the local groundwater replenishment by up to 80,000 acre-feet of stormwater. With a fresh morning drizzle reminding the community about the importance of stormwater capture, local public agencies gathered to celebrate the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge project which will be completed in 2025.
About the Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Project
The Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Project will expand existing groundwater recharge facilities owned and operated by the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District to capture and recharge local stormwater. The $51.3 million infrastructure investment is underway, with an estimated completion in late 2025. Consisting of an additional 20 recharge basins with levees, access roads, canals, inter-basin pipelines and connectors, and flow control structures, and upon completion will facilitate capturing and recharging water diverted by Valley District and Western Municipal Water District under their water right permit Nos. 21264 and 21265. Learn more about this regional project.
About San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District
The Valley District service covers around 353 square miles in southwestern San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and has a population of approximately 714,000. It spans the eastern two-thirds of the San Bernardino Valley, the Crafton Hills, and a portion of the Yucaipa Valley, and includes the cities and communities of Bloomington, Colton, East Highland, Grand Terrace, Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino, and Yucaipa. Learn more at www.sbvmwd.com.
About Western Municipal Water District
Western Municipal Water District (Western Water) is one of the largest public agencies in Riverside County, providing water and wastewater (sewer) services to nearly a million people, both retail and wholesale customers who live, work, and play within 527-square miles in one of California’s most populous regions. Learn more: WesternWaterCA.gov.
About San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District
For more than a century, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District has cultivated our relationship to the community, to one another, and to the land itself. We are stewards of the San Bernardino Valley water basin and the native species of the wash above it. We protect the land that cradles our region’s water by being proudly scrappy and fearlessly creative. We take a fiscally prudent, pragmatic approach towards fulfilling our mission so that the water supply and the environment it depends upon will be forever protected and available for the community’s use. Learn more at sbvwcd.org.