Elsinore Valley MWD receives funding for sewer improvements

Gap funding provides critical water infrastructure improvements for disadvantaged community

Through its successful gap funding program, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) supports South Mesa Water Company (SMWC) as the small water agency implements a $10.2 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board. The SGPWA Board of Directors approved a plan at its March 4, 2024 meeting to bridge a funding gap that brings critical infrastructure improvements to the cities of Calimesa and Yucaipa. This plan serves the area with imported water for the first time.

Through a Proposition 68 grant and SGPWA’s gap funding assistance, SMWC will replace approximately 50,229 linear feet of water distribution pipelines and accessories — such as valves, vents and manhole covers — that are undersized and have exceeded their useful life. SMWC will also consolidate the Hillcrest Mobile Estates into its service area. SMWC’s service area has been identified as a severely disadvantaged community with a median household income of $34,299, and the pipelines are crucial to ensuring dependable water service for local homes and businesses.

“Everyone deserves equitable access to clean, reliable water,” said SGPWA Board President Mickey Valdivia. “We are extremely proud to partner with SMWC to ensure our region’s growing water needs are met. We are grateful for the opportunity to help bring water to an area that needs it, and sustainably support the groundwater resources in our community.”

Completing this project is integral to the County Line Road Project, a joint effort between SGPWA, SMWC, and the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD). This collaborative effort will facilitate the movement of State Water Project (SWP) water to a future recharge facility on 4th Street. SMWC’s service area will access imported water for the first time through the County Line Road Project.

The County Line Road Project will enable the recharge of up to 1,500 acre-feet of SWP water in the Calimesa area for the Yucaipa Sustainable Groundwater Management Agency. This replenishment water is enough to serve 4,500 households, or about 18,000 people, a year. All Yucaipa Sustainable Groundwater Management Agency members — including SGPWA, SMWC, and SBVMWD — can import and store water through the pipelines.

“We support water retailers like SMWC to benefit the region,” said SGPWA General Manager Lance Eckhart. “The communities of Calimesa and Yucaipa gain access to safe water from an agency with long-term and sustainable operations. In turn, economic development in the region is enhanced and local partnerships are strengthened.”

SGPWA has been mitigating grant funding risks since 2022 when the SGPWA Board of Directors launched the gap funding program to assist Cabazon Water District in a local infrastructure project. Gap funding allows small water systems to fully utilize state funding when they lack financial reserves to handle the up-front costs of accepting a grant, such as contractor bills. The stall between paying a contractor and reimbursement from a grant provider can be more than six months, which can hinder progress on vital projects.

SGPWA is considering extending its gap funding assistance to multiple water retailers in the region, including Banning Heights Mutual Water Company and High Valleys Water District. Through this collaboration and aid, SGPWA protects and enhances local water supplies for generations to come.

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