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.
A higher level of treatment
Big Bear’s existing wastewater treatment processes will be upgraded with proven advanced treatment technology to produce approximately 650 million gallons of high-quality water each year that exceeds drinking water standards.
Healthier habitat for our fish and wildlife
A small portion (up to 80 acre-feet) of the high-quality water will be piped through an existing recycled water pipeline to Shay Pond, providing a consistent source of water to sustain 10 acres of habitat for the endangered Unarmored Threespined Stickleback fish. Potable water currently used for this purpose can be reserved for the community.
Steady water levels throughout the year
The rest of the high-quality water (approximately 1,920 acre-feet) will be sent via a new pump station and pipeline to the Stanfield Marsh and enhance 145 acres of wetland habitat. Water from the marsh will continuously flow into Big Bear Lake to provide higher, more stable lake levels throughout the year, and could increase lake levels by up to five feet in dry years.
A secure source of potable water
During dry periods, water can be pumped from the lake to Sand Canyon to soak into the groundwater basin and increase potable water supply. This water could also be used to irrigate the golf course to preserve the groundwater supply. During wet periods, water currently used for irrigation outside of the Valley could be used to create additional snow and increase spring runoff.
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.
FINAL DESIGN COMPLETE
Complete final design details to start construction.
Start discharging high-quality water to Big Bear Lake and Shay Pond!
Estimated Project 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 the Marsh/Lake and Shay Pond. The Sand Canyon recharge facilities will be funded separately and total approximately $3M.