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The Water Replenishment District of Southern California has unanimously approved and signed an agreement with J.F. Shea Construction to build a $110 million water treatment plant in Pico River that will enable the district to develop the first locally sustainable groundwater basins in California.

Construction of the plant, called the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project (GRIP) Advanced Water Treatment Facility, is scheduled to begin this fall, with the facility expected to be operational by 2018.

The district said when the facility is completed, WRD's two groundwater basins will be exclusively replenished with captured stormwater and recycled water, much of which will be purified by the GRIP facility for safe and reliable groundwater replenishment.

"Because of this project, this district and the millions of residents who depend on WRD will no longer have to worry about droughts or disruptions to the giant aqueducts that now bring us imported water," said board Vice President Rob Katherman "Two years from now we'll be completely independent of imported water. I can't wait for that day."

"The Los Angeles region has a long and sometimes colorful history of importing water to quench our thirst," WRD board President Willard H. Murray Jr. said in a statement. "With this project, WRD will be turning a corner in our water history. WRD's future will be built on water recycling, drought-proofing our water supplies and ending our reliance on imported water. All these new developments will be great for rate-payers and for the environment." WRD said GRIP will replace the need for 21,000 acre feet of water imported from Northern California and from the Colorado River to maintain water levels in the groundwater basins. With the plant, water imports will no longer be necessary, it added.

WRD groundwater supplies are the source of half of the water used by 4 million residents of south Los Angeles County who live in 43 cities. WRD said it plans for the GRIP/AWTF plant to be the cornerstone of its Water Independence Now program, a suite of water conservation efforts aimed at helping the district achieve independence from imported water, the cost and availability of which has been aggravated by the state's continuing drought.

The deal signed Thursday follows a WRD vote on April 7 that unanimously selected Walnut-based Shea Construction to build the district's AWTF plant and set in motion final talks with Shea about the details of a design, build and operating agreement.

"Our company has built some of the premier public works projects in California, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Boulder Dam and more recently the largest wastewater to drinkable water project in the nation," said Shea President and Chief Executive Peter Shea Jr. "We're proud and excited to be working with WRD on this project. The result is going to be terrific."

Agency's Groundwater Supplies Will Be Self-Sustaining - A California First

 
LAKEWOOD, Calif., June 16, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) on Thursday unanimously approved and signed an agreement with J.F. Shea Construction to build a $110 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant that will enable WRD to develop the first locally sustainable groundwater basins in California.

WRD Board of Directors and J.F. Shea Construction sign historic water project construction agreement.

"This is an exciting day," said WRD Board of Directors President Willard H. Murray, Jr. "The Los Angeles region has a long and sometimes colorful history of importing water to quench our thirst. With this project WRD will be turning a corner in our water history. WRD's future will be built on water recycling, drought-proofing our water supplies and ending our reliance on imported water. All these new developments will be great for rate-payers and for the environment."

When the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project (GRIP) / Advanced Water Treatment Facility (AWTF) is completed in 2018, WRD's two groundwater basins, the Central and West Coast Basins, will be exclusively replenished with captured stormwater and recycled water, much of which will be purified by the GRIP facility for safe and reliable groundwater replenishment.

GRIP will replace the need for 21,000 acre feet of water imported from Northern California and from the Colorado River to maintain water levels in the groundwater basins. With the GRIP/AWTF plant, water imports will no longer be necessary. Imported water is increasingly expensive and hard to acquire.

WRD groundwater supplies are the source of half of the water used by 4 million residents of south Los Angeles County who live in 43 cities.

The GRIP/AWTF plant, located in the City of Pico Rivera, will be the cornerstone of WRD's Water Independence Now (WIN) program, a suite of water conservation efforts aimed at helping the District achieve complete independence from imported water, the cost and availability of which has been aggravated by the state's continuing drought. 

In effect, the GRIP/AWTF project will provide residents of WRD's service area with drought-protection.  

Construction of the GRIP/AWTF plant is scheduled to begin this coming fall. The facility is expected to be up and running by 2018. 

Shea has tremendous experience with this kind of construction. In recent years it has built the largest wastewater recycling plant in the world and the largest desalinization plant in the Western Hemisphere.
On April 7, 2017 WRD's Board voted 5-0 to select Shea to build the District's AWTF plant and set in motion final talks with Shea about the details of a design, build and operating agreement. 

Rob Katherman, Board of Directors Vice-President

"Because of this project, this District and the millions of residents who depend on WRD will no longer have to worry about droughts or disruptions to the giant aqueducts that now bring us imported water. Two years from now we'll be completely independent of imported water. I can't wait for that day." 

John Allen, Treasurer, Board of Directors

"This is a great day for the District and for the 4 million people and the residents of 43 cities who are served by WRD. Two years from now we are going to be completely independent of imported water from Northern California and from Colorado River. This is a terrific day."

Albert Robles, Board of Directors Treasurer

"This project once seemed impossible but now it is inevitable. The road to here has not been easy. We started this project during a drought in 2004 when everyone was applauding the project. Then when we hit rainy times, people came to the board and said the project was no longer needed. But we stayed the course because we knew there'd be more droughts. And there were. And now we've finally in a drought again and WRD looks very smart for staying the course. I'm proud of what we've done."


Sergio Caldero, Member Board of Directors

"Imported water is a part of Southern California's history. People have done movies and books about this history. Now we at the WRD are declaring our independence from this history and setting out on a new path of water independence."

Robb Whitaker, WRD General Manager

"WRD and its ratepayers are extremely fortunate because we were able to secure $20 million in grant funding. The remaining $80 million will be financed with a low-interest long-term loan through a water bond funding approved by California voters. We're proud to say that this project will in no way adversely impact our rate-payers."

Peter Shea, Jr. President/CEO of J.F. Shea Company.

"Our company has built some of the premier public works projects in California, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Boulder Dam and more recently the largest wastewater to drinkable water project in the nation. We're proud and excited to be working with WRD on this project. The result is going to be terrific."

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.

Rob Katherman, the South Bay representative on the board of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, speaks Thursday at the kick-off of a $22.5 million project in Torrance that will double the amount of salty groundwater purified for domestic use and reduce the area's reliance on expensive imported water. (Photo by Nick Green) 

By Nick Green, Daily Breeze

A $22.5 million project in Torrance seeks to double the amount of saltwater converted to potable supplies, cut the area’s reliance on expensive imported water and boost the amount of groundwater storage to act as a greater buffer in times of drought.

“Today is a watershed event — and, yes, a pun was intended,” Torrance Mayor Pat Furey said Thursday at a ground-breaking ceremony marking the beginning of construction. Under the project, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California — which manages two groundwater basins that provide 40 percent of the drinking water for 43 cities — will double the size of its Robert W. Goldsworthy Groundwater Desalter located at the Torrance City Yard.

Since 2001, the desalter has purified 2.5 million gallons of brackish water per day, turning a formerly undrinkable resource into one suitable for household consumption. The saltwater comes from seawater intrusion that occurred in the 1950s and ’60s after the economy boomed and too much fresh water was extracted from underground reservoirs, including the Silverado aquifer beneath Torrance.

When finished about a year from now, the expansion project will boost that to 5 million gallons, which Torrance purchases from the district. That reduces costs to the customer because groundwater can be produced for a little more than a third of the cost of imported water.

“This will produce, when it’s completed, about a quarter of our water supply,” said Public Works Director Rob Beste, who added that the expansion is just one component of a larger project. “We are looking to (eventually) produce 60 to 80 percent of the potable water we use locally in the city of Torrance.”

The city will do so by sinking four new north Torrance wells in the next two years or so at a cost of $15 million to $20 million, depending how quickly the necessary permits are approved by regulators.

The desalter expansion will help by extracting saltwater from the huge brackish plumes contained in underground water basins to ensure the contamination doesn’t spread. And, of course, it will ultimately boost the region’s capacity to store potable water in the underwater aquifers. These supplies will be available in case of a drought as salty water is gradually drawn down.

In fact, district officials say that a combination of projects coming online in the next three years will mean all water used by the district to replenish local groundwater supplies will come from recycled rather than imported water.

Executive Order Aims to Make Water Conservation a Way of Life in California

 
SACRAMENTO – Moving to bolster California’s climate and drought resilience, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order that builds on temporary statewide emergency water restrictions to establish longer-term water conservation measures, including permanent monthly water use reporting, new permanent water use standards in California communities and bans on clearly wasteful practices such as hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes.
 
“Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” said Governor Brown. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”
 
Californians have responded to the call to conserve water during the drought by dialing back sprinklers, replacing lawns, fixing leaky faucets and installing more efficient toilets and washing machines. Between June 2015 and March 2016, Californians reduced water use by 23.9 percent compared with the same months in 2013 – saving enough water to provide 6.5 million Californians with water for one year.
 
While the severity of the drought has lessened in some parts of California after winter rains and snow, the current drought is not over. For the fifth consecutive year, dry conditions persist in many areas of the state, with limited drinking water supplies in some communities, diminished water for agricultural production and environmental habitat, and severely depleted groundwater basins. The executive order calls for long-term improvements to local drought preparation across the state, and directs the State Water Resources Control Board to develop proposed emergency water restrictions for 2017 if the drought persists.
 
California droughts are expected to be more frequent and persistent, as warmer winter temperatures driven by climate change reduce water held in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and result in drier soil conditions. Recognizing these new conditions, the executive order directs permanent changes to use water more wisely and efficiently, and prepare for more frequent, persistent periods of limited supply.
 
These new actions will help achieve a top priority in the Governor’s Water Action Plan – to “Make Conservation a California Way of Life.” The administration will seek public input in the coming months on new water conservation and efficiency standards called for in this executive order.

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