EMWD’s Groundwater Reliability Plus and Desalination Programs Strengthen Local Water Supplies

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EMWD Board President Ronald W. Sullivan

(Local Water Supplies)

Eastern Municipal Water District

As we face the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and a changing world, this summer is looking different for many of us than it has in the past. But no matter how you celebrate summer activities, we at Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) will continue to ensure you have the safe water you need.

EMWD serves more than 839,000 residents, businesses and agricultural customers in Western Riverside County. EMWD is one of the largest marketers of recycled water in the state which offsets our need to import water for irrigation. However, we still need to import the majority of our area’s tap water supply from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Colorado River, with only 20 percent coming from local groundwater supplies.

Understanding the long journey that much of our drinking water travels to reach our system, EMWD has long been committed to investing in proven groundwater sustainability programs that will increase our local water supplies.

As a steward of this precious resource, we created Groundwater Reliability Plus, a series of programs to improve the quality and quantity of the water in our local groundwater basins. These programs include water recycling, healthy sewers, desalination, water banking and a future purified water replenishment program, all of which help EMWD use every drop of water to its fullest.

Our unique service area deserves unique solutions for water reliability and EMWD continues to plan for the future by expanding our groundwater desalination program, which increases the amount of local, drinkable water we get from otherwise unusable brackish, or salty, groundwater aquifers. The desalination process uses reverse osmosis to remove salt and other impurities from that groundwater, so it becomes clean, drinkable water. The leftover salt from this process is piped to Orange County for further treatment before being released into the ocean.

After completing our third desalination facility in early 2021, Perris II, the groundwater desalination program will remove up to 50,000 tons of salt from our local groundwater basins each year and generate enough water to supply up to 30,000 households. The addition of this new desalter to our two existing groundwater desalination facilities means we will cumulatively produce 14 million gallons a day of drinking water from brackish groundwater basins in Perris and Menifee. Groundwater desalination provides a cost-effective water supply in our area that is competitive with the cost of imported supplies.

Having reliable water available locally has a significant positive impact on our way of life. In times of drought or natural disaster, and during unprecedented times like those we are living in now, we have a local water supply source, which allows us to continue to thrive. By investing in our local water supplies now, future generations will also be able to enjoy an abundance of high quality, local water when they need it.

To learn more about Groundwater Reliability Plus and EMWD’s efforts to become more water independent, please visit our website at www.emwd.org/gwr-plus.

-Ronald Sullivan

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