How Replenish Big Bear recovers our lost water
A new water legacy
The current water cycle is broken. Our only source of water enters as precipitation, then flows into the lake or soaks into the ground to become groundwater. After our community uses groundwater for our potable water needs, the wastewater is treated at our local treatment plant and pumped out of the Valley to irrigate crops in Lucerne Valley. Through this current practice—simply a method of disposal—we are losing millions of gallons of local water each day.
Replenish Big Bear captures and purifies our lost water, and uses it to enhance water levels throughout the Valley. This new supplemental water source will help restore lake levels, which have seen extremely low levels over the past 15 years and were only 40 percent to full as recently as November 2018. The water will also be used to recharge groundwater levels in the Valley, which will protect our community's drinking water supply.
CLOSING OUR WATER LOOP
REPLENISH BIG BEAR CAPTURES OUR LOST WATER
The water is treated to drinking water standards and used to enhance water levels in the lake, other area water bodies, and our groundwater basin.
of the Valley's water is disposed of each year. This amounts to more than half a year's worth of water for Big Bear Valley.
All water has value.
Replenish Big Bear keeps more of our water in the Valley, and represents a new way of thinking about our most essential natural resource—that all water has value.
How it works
Replenish Big Bear will use advanced treatment processes to treat water currently piped out of the Valley, and use it to restore water levels above and below ground throughout Big Bear Valley.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades
Big Bear’s existing wastewater treatment processes will be upgraded with proven advanced treatment technology to produce approximately 800 million gallons of high-quality water each year that exceeds drinking water standards. This is a BBARWA Project.
Solar Evaporation Ponds
This project proposes to construct between 23 and 57 acres of Solar Evaporation Ponds at the BBARWA WWTP site. The ponds would be divided into separate storage basins to allow the brine to evaporate. The project would include two monitoring wells to detect leakage from the ponds. This is a BBARWA Project.
Stanfield Marsh /
Big Bear Lake Discharge Project
Up to 2,200 AFY of Program Water is proposed to be discharged to the east end of Stanfield Marsh, which will then flow into Big Bear Lake. This is a BBARWA Project.
Sand Canyon Recharge Project
Up to 380 AFY of Program Water stored in Big Bear Lake will be used for groundwater recharge at the Sand Canyon Recharge Area over a six-month dry weather period. The cost of this project is not included in the $75 million Program cost estimate. This is a BBCCSD and BBLDWP Project that will be completed after a permit is issued.
Shay Pond Discharge Project
The Shay Pond Discharge Project would replace the potable water source that is currently discharged to the Shay Pond with Program Water as the new water source to maintain the water flow through the Pond. Up to 80 AFY of Program Water may be sent to Shay Pond to support the Stickleback, and any remaining Program Water will be sent to Stanfield Marsh, a tributary of Big Bear Lake. This BBARWA, BBCCSD, and BBLDWP Project is a future opportunity.
As clean as from the tap
The water used to replenish water levels throughout Big Bear Valley will exceed even state and federal drinking water standards.
Our path to a secure water future
FUNDING APPLICATIONS (Ongoing)
Potential funding options are being evaluated, including grants and low-interest loans.
Environmental assessments are underway to obtain all required approvals and permits.
The Program Team is working with regulators to ensure the Program meets all local, state, and federal requirements in a cost-effective way.
A pilot facility will be constructed and operated to confirm that the new treatment processes deliver the required water quality results.
The engineering team will evaluate and confirm the most effective way to deliver the Program’s goals.
Design details established during Preliminary Engineering will be refined based on pilot testing and finalized for construction.
FINAL DESIGN COMPLETE
Complete final design details to start construction.
CONSTRUCTION & STARTUP
Upgrades to the treatment plant and supporting infrastructure will be constructed and tested during a start up period.
Start discharging high-quality water to Big Bear Lake!
Estimated Costs and Grants
Total Project Cost: $75M (in 2025 dollars)
Total Grants Awarded and Recommended: $17M (as of 10/2022)
To read more about the grants below, visit the News page.
Costs shown above are for BBARWA-led treatment upgrades and piping to Stanfield Marsh/Big Bear Lake. The Sand Canyon recharge facilities will be funded separately and total approximately $3M.