Eastern Municipal wins award for desalination program

Eastern Municipal wins award for desalination program

Eastern Municipal Water District was recognized this week by CalDesal with its inaugural Institutional Achievement Award for its efforts to promote water desalination as a safe, sustainable and reliable water supply source.

Cal Desal is an industry organization committed to advancing ocean and groundwater desalination as a viable resource to ensure a sustainable water future for communities throughout California.

EMWD was nominated for the award by engineering consulting firm Black and Veach, which has helped design EMWD’s groundwater desalination facilities.

EMWD meets nearly 10 percent of its demand through its groundwater desalination efforts. In 2022, it commissioned its third groundwater desalination facility – the Perris II Desalter – to provide 5.4 million gallons of drinking water per day. EMWD cumulatively produces more than 14 million gallons of drinking water per day at its desalination complex in Menifee.

EMWD’s service area has groundwater that is brackish (salty) due to natural soil conditions, historical land use and agricultural activities. Its desalination program helps remove those salts and makes enough beneficial drinking water to serve more than 30,000 households each year.

Approximately 65,000 tons of salts are removed each year and disposed of to the Pacific Ocean through the Inland Empire Brine Line.

EMWD received $22.5 million from the State Water Resources Control Board to construct the Perris II  Desalter. It has cumulatively received nearly $100 million in grant funding to support its advancement of the program in incremental fashion, including brackish groundwater wells, pipelines and treatment facilities. This includes a $50 million authorization from the United States Army Corps of Engineers via the Water Resources Development Act. EMWD is actively seeking an additional $50 million authorization to further expand the program.

EMWD has also worked with private companies to pilot new technologies to maximize the recovery rate of desalination. The pilot projects have provided critical data to the industry about how to increase recovery rates to the 90th percentile.

As it eyes future partnerships to further promote the role of desalination in its water supply future, EMWD is also looking at other diversification including potential seawater desalination partnerships.

“EMWD is incredibly appreciative of CalDesal for this prestigious honor,” said EMWD Board Director Jeff Armstrong, who serves on CalDesal’s Executive Committee. “EMWD is a strong advocate for desalination as part of a diverse and sustainable water supply portfolio, and we look forward to continuing to expand our to desalination program to further benefit our customers through a safe and local water supply.”

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