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East Valley Water District new recycling plant pass initial hurdle
East Valley Water District’s proposal to build a water recycling plant–Sterling Natural Resources Center –has passed its initial hurdle this week with a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD).
The project involves the construction of a wastewater treatment facility and associated facilities that will provide tertiary treatment of wastewater generated within the East Valley Water District service area.
The certification vote allows SBVMWD not only capture and treat East Valley Water District’s wastewater, but also deposit the treated water into one of three groundwater recharge locations and potentially supply supplemental water to the Rialto Channel when needed for environmental benefits.
Sterling Natural Resources Center is proposed to be constructed on vacant land in the City of Highland. The property would also include an administration center, a community learning center, a parking lot, and associated public open space area with garden and water features.
At present East Valley Water District is sending 6 million gallons of wastewater per day to the City of San Bernardino for treatment and discharge of treated water into the Santa Ana River. The East Valley water recycling project furthers San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District’s role as a water provider and therefore SBVMWD is acting as the lead agency for the project.
A significant issue for the project is the potential impact to the Santa Ana sucker. The fish is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The proposed project will indirectly divert up to 6 million gallons per day from the Santa Ana River. That water will instead be treated and then devoted to beneficial uses like recharging the Bunker Hill groundwater basin.
Karin Cleary-Rese, Inland division for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, praised the California Environmental Quality Act Document produced by SBVMWD prior to the water district’s vote.
The outstanding part of the document is that it matches impacts with remediation efforts, Cleary-Rese said.
East Valley Water District’s plan for its own wastewater recycling plant, and not continuing to send wastewater to the city of San Bernardino will cost the city at least $4.5 million for the next 20 years, according to a letter written by the agency’s attorney and sent to Mark Bulot, SBVMWD board president.
In related matters, prior to the vote, David Aladjem, an attorney for SBVMWD, said that the city of San Bernardino recently sent in objections to the water recycling project, which were of an economic nature. Inasmuch as the meeting was focused on environmental issues, Aladjem’s objections were not addressed.