Eight agencies to share $20 million to cleanup/prevent spread of groundwater contamination

By on April 3, 2017
California Drought Grants

Eight projects throughout the state will be sharing $20 million in an initial round of grant funds statewide to cleanup or prevent the spread of groundwater contamination to aquifers serving as a source of drinking water. The projects help achieve the goals of California’s Water Action Plan, which was released by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in 2014.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced the distribution of the funds late last week. The board anticipates distributing additional funds over the next several months to projects submitted in the initial solicitation. The project comes from the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, also known as Proposition 1.

“Our groundwater aquifers are our prized water savings accounts. They provide a cushion when our other supplies are depleted, and serve as the only source of water for some communities. Unfortunately, in many cases they have become contaminated by historic industrial or agricultural uses,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus.

Proposition 1, which was approved by California voters in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election, provided $900 million for a Groundwater Sustainability Program of which the State Water Board is administering $800 million. The State Water Board adopted the Groundwater Grant Program Guidelines (GWGP) for administering GWGP Proposition 1 funds May 18, 2016 and subsequently initiated the first project solicitation. With local matching funds the total value of the projects supported by state grant funds is more than $40 million.

The eight funded projects include the construction of treatment systems to cleanup groundwater contaminated by past industrial activities; investigations into the most cost effective way to remove contamination from aquifers; and proper destruction of old wells to ensure contamination cannot easily travel through the well to drinking water sources. The funded projects and the recommended grant amount include:

Alameda County Water District (Alameda County), Old Jarvis Road Irrigation Well Destruction Project, $137,000; City of Modesto (Stanislaus County), Destruction of Water Supply Wells, $943,985; Orange County Water District (Orange County), North Basin Extraction Well EW-1 Project, $800,000; Orange County Water District (Orange County), North Basin Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study, $1,000,000; Orange County Water District (Orange County), South Basin Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study, $1,000,000; Water Replenishment District of Southern California, (Los Angeles County), Los Angeles Forebay Perchlorate and VOC Cleanup Project – Phase 1; $7,275,675; Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) ( San Bernardino County), Chino Basin Improvement and Groundwater Clean-up Project, $11,377,018; and, South Tahoe Public Utility District (El Dorado County), Feasibility Study of Remedial Alternatives to Mitigate PCE Contamination, $294,270.

“Groundwater aquifers are perfect storage for recycled water, stormwater capture, and other water, but we need to deal with legacy contamination to make that work,” Marcus added. “In the face of climate change, population growth and drought, it is becoming even more crucial to restore and protect these aquifers so that they can productively supply communities with clean water.”