RCWD to seek desal, recharge feasibility grants

The March 9 meeting of the Rancho California Water District board included a 7-0 vote to approve two resolutions in support of grant applications.

Both grants would be awarded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. One resolution expresses support for a grant to help fund the Western Riverside County Regional Desalination Feasibility Study while the other resolution acknowledges the RCWD interest in a groundwater recharge feasibility study. The board action also approved negotiation between staff and the Bureau of Reclamation and authorized RCWD staff to execute cooperative agreements for the grants if awarded. Both grants seek $1 million with the amount being divided equally among the partners in each project.

The feasibility studies would explore opportunities for enhancing regional water supply reliability. The Western Riverside County Regional Desalination Feasibility Study would be developed by Rancho Water, Eastern Municipal Water District, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and Western Municipal Water District. The study would evaluate potential options for conveying desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean to western Riverside County for use by the partnering agencies’ customers.

The Regional Desalination and Groundwater Recharge Feasibility Study involves Rancho Water, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Rainbow Municipal Water District, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and city of Oceanside and would evaluate options for advanced recycled water treatment, including brine disposal and storage of water in local groundwater basins for later potable use.

Rancho Water hopes to implement an indirect potable reuse project to maximize the use of recycled water, to reduce the amount of recycled water disposed outside of the Santa Margarita Watershed, to increase water supply reliability and to reduce the salinity and thus improve the water quality of supply from the Santa Margarita River Watershed. The RCWD project requires the disposal of brine from the demineralization of recycled water, and the district desires to dispose of the brine to the Pacific Ocean by utilizing available capacity within the Oceanside and Fallbrook outfall lines.

The grants would be funded through the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Water Recycling and Desalination Planning Grant program which has a 1:1 match requirement. The $1 million match would be divided equally between the partners in each project, so Rancho would be responsible for a $250,000 match on the Western Riverside County Regional Desalination Feasibility Study grant and a $200,000 match on the Regional Desalination and Groundwater Recharge Feasibility Study funding. The match amount may include staff time and may also include state grant money. A November 2022 RCWD board action approved a grant application to the state Department of Water Resources for a groundwater banking feasibility study which would be a decision support tool for potential groundwater banking in the Temecula Valley Groundwater Basin.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at jnaiman@reedermedia.com.

Joe Naiman