New levels of regional collaboration are increasing water independence in San Bernardino Valley. Ten agency partners joined forces through an actionable plan to prioritize recycled water supply projects and keep more water in the Valley.
Years of dry winters, periods of severe drought, and evolving regulation that has reduced the State Water allocation by 45 percent had depleted reservoirs and overdrawn groundwater basins in the San Bernardino Valley. Local water agencies knew that more sustainable water supply solution was needed, and it had to come from within the Valley.
San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) joined forces with nine regional agency partners to explore ways to keep more water in the Valley. WSC facilitated individual and regional stakeholder meetings to establish shared goals and brainstorm ways to reduce reliance on State Water. Key questions included: How can we work together to prioritize regional recycled water projects? How can we maximize the use of existing infrastructure? Which projects will also benefit our communities?
The collaborative workshops identified 11 conceptual projects for further study. The study resulted in a shared vision and actionable strategic plan for critical recycled water supply projects in the Valley.
WSC employed a multi-criteria evaluation methodology and decision support framework that considered the social, environmental, and economic outcomes of each project. WSC evaluated the risk and reliability for the various supply options, as well as the political and jurisdictional considerations for project implementation. Supply portfolios were developed, scored, and ranked through a facilitated stakeholder process, enabling meaningful discussion and defensible decision-making.
One project identified through the study, the Sterling Natural Resource Center, is now under construction. The Center will be a state-of-the-art facility in Highland, California that will provide a new drought-proof water supply for the region. The project will be capable of producing up to eight million gallons of clean water per day, which will be used to replenish the nearby Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin and increase the region’s water independence. In total, hundreds of millions of gallons of water will be stored in the groundwater basin for use during dry years. In addition, the facility offers additional benefits including community spaces, neighborhood improvements, and a demonstration garden.
WSC is currently developing a Strategic Plan for the Valley District. The agency is the fifth largest contractor for the State Water Project, serving an area of 353 square miles and a population of nearly 700,000 people in San Bernardino County.