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Ratified agreement to save ratepayers $45 Million in interest loan payments .

Lakewood, CA. Thursday - Today, the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment of Southern California (WRD) approved an agreement with California’s Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) that will provide the WRD $95 million in funding for construction of the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project (GRIP), an advanced water treatment facility currently under construction in the City of Pico Rivera.

“Today, WRD has saved our ratepayers $45 million as our Board fulfills a promise we made to the residents of this District when we embarked on GRIP: to secure maximum outside funding to create a locally sustainable water supply for the 43 cities and four million residents we serve,” said WRD Board Vice President, Rob Katherman. “Not only are we delivering water independence from expensive and unreliable imported water, but we are doing so with great fiscal responsibility.”

The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, better known as Proposition 1, made one-percent financing and grant funds available for the construction of water projects that met specific criteria. WRD submitted its construction financing application to the State Water Board for GRIP in April 2015 and learned recently its submission was selected to receive funding. Today’s approval of the agreement seals that funding arrangement.

“We are very grateful to the State Water Board for its thorough consideration and approval of our funding application. This funding covers roughly 90% of the cost of this project.” stated WRD Treasurer Albert Robles. “As a result, this project will not fiscally impact our water rate and, most importantly, ensures that WRD’s water rate will be the lowest in the region for decades to come. In fact, the cost savings on the 30-year loan is expected to exceed more than $1.3 million annually to ratepayers or about $45 million over the life of the loan.”

The Project will allow the WRD to offset the current use of 21,000 AFY of imported water with a combination of advanced-treated recycled water (10,000 AFY) from the GRIP and from tertiary-treated recycled water (11,000 AFY). The water will be used to replenish two of the nation’s most utilized urban groundwater basins- the Central and West Coast Basins. WRD provides about half of the drinking water for four million people within the District’s service area.

The State Water Board has agreed to provide project loan funds in the amount of up to $95 million, a portion of this amount, $15 million, is recommended as grant funds. After deducting the $15 million in grant funding, the District is expected to receive an $80 million one-percent loan. This results in a payback equal to $92.6 million (principal balance of $80 million and $12.6 million in interest) over the course of 30 years.

The financial assistance provided by the State Water Board will allow WRD to maximize the use of existing resources despite the ongoing drought and minimize fiscal impacts. For example, when considering annual debt service payments, WRD is expecting an annual debt service of approximately $3 million with the use of the State Water Board financing as compared to the traditional tax-exempt revenue bond financing alternative, which would result in a debt service annual payment of approximately $4.3 million, . Hence, the State Water Board’s one-percent financing translates into a $1.3 million annual debt service savings.

The State Water Board’s awarding of a one-percent loan financing and grant funds further solidifies the GRIP’s regional and state water sustainability benefits. In addition, entering into the State Water Board’s Agreement for water recycling construction financing reflects the District’s to sound basin management and commitment to fiscal responsibility.

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The Water Replenishment District of Southern California is the regional groundwater management agency that protects and preserves the quantity and quality of groundwater for two of the most utilized urban basins in the State of California. The service area is home to over ten percent of California's population residing in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County. WRD is governed by a publicly elected Board of Directors which includes Willard H. Murray, Jr., Robert Katherman, John D. S. Allen, Sergio Calderon, and Albert Robles.

LAKEWOOD, Calif., Oct. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Thursday, the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) took a monumental step toward enhancing future groundwater supplies for two of the nation's most utilized urban groundwater basins by certifying the Groundwater Basins Master Plan (GBMP).

The GBMP establishes a long term vision and framework to enhance groundwater replenishment in the Central and West Coast basins by increasing the reliability of groundwater supplies, improving and protecting groundwater quality, and accommodating growing potable water demands.

"If fully implemented, the Groundwater Basin Master Plan could conceivably produce enough locally developed water to meet the total water demands of WRD's entire service area of 43 cities, eliminating our region's demand for water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River," said WRD Director Rob Katherman, Chair of the Water Resources Committee and member of the Groundwater Quality Committee.

WRD developed the GBMP to provide a single reference document for regional water providers that rely on the Central and West Coast groundwater basins. The GBMP identifies and evaluates specific projects and strategies that will increase replenishment and the beneficial use of recycled water and captured storm water. Increased replenishment will require increased use of existing percolation ponds, injection wells, and recovery facilities, expanded or upgraded recycled water treatment facilities, and the installation of new water infrastructure, including injection and extraction wells, conveyance pipelines, and pump stations.

"Just two weeks ago, WRD broke ground on one of the region's most important water projects, the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project (GRIP), which will eliminate our need to import water to supplement existing groundwater replenishment," stated WRD Director Albert Robles, Chair of the Finance/Audit and Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) Committees. "Already, we are working to transform this region of Los Angeles County, where over ten percent of the state's population resides, into one that will lead California into an entirely new level of water sustainability."

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California is the regional groundwater management agency that protects and preserves the quantity and quality of groundwater for two of the most utilized urban basins in the State of California. The service area is home to over ten percent of California's population residing in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County. WRD is governed by a publicly elected Board of Directors which includes Willard H. Murray, Jr., Robert Katherman, John D. S. Allen, Sergio Calderon, and Albert Robles.
July 1, 2016 marks the start the new fiscal year for the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD). The WRD Board Officers will continue to serve in their previously elected positions.

In February, the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), elected new board officers, selecting former Assemblymember and longtime WRD board member Willard H. Murray, take the helm as its new Board President. Murray has served on the board since 1998, including the past two years as the Board's Vice President. In addition, the board elected Rob Katherman to serve as Vice President, John Allen as Board Secretary and Albert Robles as the board's Treasurer. The elected board officers will continue their board roles into the new fiscal year. 

"I was grateful and humbled to have been elected by my colleagues to lead WRD's Board of Directors, especially as we continue to forge long term solutions to drought-proof our region," said President Murray. "We're committed to continuing the course of WRD's outstanding work and moving forward important projects in this new year that will ensure safe, clean and affordable drinking water for decades to come."

Vice President Rob Katherman echoed the sentiment of his colleague, Willard Murray. "For the past 12 years that I've served on the board, we have hit many important milestones, but I'm most encouraged by current efforts to become the first set of groundwater basins in the state to become fully sustainable and independent of imported water,” said Rob Katherman. "We're setting a whole new standard for groundwater management in the State of California and I'm proud to be on this Board of Directors to help lead that effort."

John Allen, who was elected in November 2014, will continue as Board Secretary. "Being supported by my colleagues is something I regard with sincere gratitude," stated Allen. "Since joining the board, we have been in high gear on projects that will have permanent positive impacts on the future of our water security. I'm looking forward to continuing that pace in the new year and achieving complete water independence of our groundwater basins."

Last fall WRD unveiled the design plans for its new advanced water treatment facility that will be located in the City of Pico Rivera and will provide an additional 21,000 acre feet (7 billion gallons) of water that is currently imported. Construction is expected to begin later this year. Completion of the facility in 2018 will eliminate the need to import water from Northern California and the Colorado River for groundwater replenishment.

Albert Robles, WRD's longest serving member, will maintain his role on the board as treasurer. "Our fiscal stability and accountability remains unmatched. Even as we move ahead with building critical projects for our region's future, we are mindful of our fiscal responsibilities to the public and our groundwater pumpers" Robles said. "We're right on track to have one of our most successful years that will benefit the region for decades."

Officials of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, along with state Sen. Tony Mendoza and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, broke ground on the water district’s Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project in Pico Rivera Sept. 22. The facility will allow the district to purify recycled wastewater to replenish local groundwater basins. (Courtesy photo)

Los Angeles Wave Newspaper
September 30, 2016

PICO RIVERA — Ground was broken Sept. 22 to formally mark the beginning of construction on a high-tech $110 million treatment plant designed to purify recycled wastewater and reduce local dependence on imported water.

Officials of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California were joined by state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Downey, for ceremonies on the five-acre site top build the district’s Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project.

The project is expected to be completed in 2018.

District officials said the plant will recycle wastewater obtained from the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts and purify it to federal and state safety standards, eliminating the need to import billions of gallons a year from Northern California and the Colorado River to replenish groundwater basins.

“Our development and use of local water supplies to eliminate the need for imported water didn’t happen overnight,” water district board treasurer Albert Robles said. “It took a decade of planning, investment and — above all — unwavering commitment. When people criticized us for pursuing this project during the rainy years, we held steadfast that our region needed leadership that would do right by future generations and not bow to political expediency.”

The district manages groundwater reserves for 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County, and uses about 250,000 acre-feet of water a year, or roughly 40 percent of its area’s demand. According to the district, it imports about 21,000 acre-feet of water, but the new plant will eliminate the need for any imports to recharge its basins.

The project “will help us guarantee that when residents in the southern portion of Los Angeles County, including the South Bay, turn on their faucets there will be water,” District Vice President Rob Katherman said. “The year-to-year and long-term availability of imported water is uncertain. As we have seen in seven of the last 10 years, our imported water supplies are vulnerable to drought and regulatory curtailment.”

Water district board member Sergio Calderon said the district has come a long way over six decades to finally reach full sustainability.

“Fifty-four years ago, [the district] used over 208,000 acre-feet of imported water pumped from the Colorado River for recharge in the spreading grounds,” Calderon said.

Now, the district imports only 21,000 acre feet of water. After the new facility is completed, there will be zero direct imports, Calderon said.

“What better gift could we give to the people during a drought than an assured source of water,” state Sen. Mendoza said.

Reflecting on the community amenities that will be built into the new plant, including the water science learning exhibit, Assemblywoman Garcia said she was looking forward to the day “when our third graders can learn from this facility and grow up to become water engineers and scientists.”

Despite six years of drought conditions impacting Southern California and steep rises in imported water, the WRD Board of Directors recently passed a moderate 5% increase and rejected an alternative plan that called for 13.78% increase. The new rate represents an annual increase of about 58¢ per month for a family of four.

“I'm proud of our board of directors and the WRD staff for positioning us to limit water rate increases for the coming year through the use of recycled water despite an ongoing drought throughout Southern California," stated WRD Vice President Rob Katherman. "I'm especially grateful to WRD's Budget Advisory Committee for working with WRD to develop a rate plan that minimizes the impact on ratepayers throughout the district."

Since 2012, the rate assessment has increased an average of 3.9% in the face of drought conditions. In at least two of those years, the Board did not increase rates at all. Comparatively, this past year the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California increased rates 12.1%. However, with the intentional decreased use of imported water for groundwater replenishment, the impact on WRD has been limited.

Rob Katherman added "WRD carefully worked with the groundwater pumping community to limit increases in administrative and operating costs for the coming years.  Years of mindful planning and analysis have provided us the flexibility to meet rising costs without unduly burdening ratepayers and working families."

Another factor minimizing increases in the replenishment assessment is WRD's Water Independence Now (WIN) Program.  In conjunction with WRD's partners the County Sanitation Districts and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, the WIN Program increases the use of recycled water and stormwater runoff to replenish the groundwater supply.  The WIN Program will soon eliminate WRD's demand for replenishment water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River through the construction of an advanced water treatment facility in the City of Pico Rivera, known as the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project (GRIP).  This effort has already begun providing savings to the cost of managing the groundwater resources, which comprise 50% of the overall water supply in WRD's service area.  

"The cost of groundwater is less than a third of the cost of imported water.  WRD's efforts to keep rate increases at a minimum will go far in allowing local groundwater pumpers to maintain affordable water rates to customers," stated WRD Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) Chairman, Mark Grajeda. The BAC is an advisory group of local groundwater pumpers elected by the entire groundwater pumping community within WRD's service area.

The new rate is set at $297 per acre foot – enough water annually for two families of four.

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California is the regional groundwater management agency that protects and preserves the quantity and quality of groundwater for two of the most utilized urban basins in the State of California. The service area is home to over ten percent of California's population residing in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County. WRD is governed by a publicly elected Board of Directors which includes Willard H. Murray, Jr., Robert Katherman, John Allen, Sergio Calderon, and Albert Robles.