EMWD groundwater replenishment project in San Jacinto begins new phase; main excavation complete

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The north construction entrance partially hides heavy equipment being used for the Eastern Municipal Water District’s Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility. Most of the excavation was completed Thursday, Aug. 20. Tony Ault photo

Some of the plastic covering the fences surrounding Eastern Municipal Water District’s Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility project are starting to come down at the Ramona Expressway and Esplanade Avenue in San Jacinto.

While most of the plastic covering on the chain link fence remains, some has been removed, making the excavation site visible and showing off the large walled-in drilling rig on the south end of the dig site and some piping. Some heavy equipment is being used to install pipelines and to level the landscaped pedestrian walkways around the perimeter in preparation for planting water-resistant plants and winding concrete sidewalks.

The large well-drilling rig hidden by the 24-foot high sound wall continues pumping while crews install pipelines at the Eastern Municipal Water District’s Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility project at Esplanade Avenue and the Ramona Expressway.

More work will be done in the next seven or eight months to complete the project in early 2021, according to letters from EMWD sent to nearby residents.

EMWD contractors finished drilling the first of two wells for the project, which will be used to pump out water from the aquifer under the site as needed, and they are now drilling the second well just east of Villines Road and south of the neighborhood park. The noise from the 24-hour pumping operation is being mitigated by 24-foot high temporary walls surrounding the heavy drilling rig. The plastic and chain link fences remain up near the drilling site.

In February, the contractor performed work along Villines Avenue, installing the pipelines that will provide water to the new facility.

The uneven bare path along Esplanade Avenue, beside the EMWD Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility, will soon be converted into a pedestrian-friendly walkway surrounded by drought-tolerant plants and bushes.

The Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility was started last year, and once completed, it will serve as the future home for EMWD’s Water Banking project as part of its Groundwater Reliability Plus initiative.

Water will be imported to the site during years of normal and heavy rain and snowfall. It will be extracted during dry years to help EMWD meet the demands of its communities including San Jacinto, Hemet and surrounding areas, EMWD said. It will also help mitigate the impacts of future droughts. By increasing local groundwater basin levels, EMWD said it can increase water supply reliability for the future. The facility will also help EMWD improve the groundwater quality in the aquifer.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.