Replenish Big Bear, a recycled water project that will serve Big Bear Valley (Valley), accepted a $500,000 grant award from the State of California’s Proposition 1 Disadvantaged Community Involvement (DCI) Program this week.
The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) is serving as the program manager for the grant funds from DWR and will enter into a Sub-Grant Agreement with the Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency (BBARWA) on behalf of the Replenish Big Bear project team to provide $500,000 for technical assistance on Replenish Big Bear. Funds will be used to cover costs related to permitting incurred between February 2019 and December 2020. This is the first grant received by the project and is critical to support a new high-quality water source that will help meet Big Bear Valley’s current and future water needs.
As Replenish Big Bear advances through planning stages, all potential funding options to minimize the cost to local residents, including state and federal grants, are being considered. Efforts are currently underway to pursue two sources of grant funding to help make Replenish Big Bear a reality: Title XVI, a federal program that provides funding specifically for water reuse projects in 17 western states including California, and Prop 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) funding, a state program that helps to fund projects that meet California’s long-term water needs. The first step toward pursuing Title XVI funding is to submit a Feasibility Study to the Bureau of Reclamation.
The Replenish Big Bear Title XVI Feasibility Study is nearly complete and will be submitted this week. Once approved, the project will become eligible to apply for grants that could fund up to 25 percent of the project. Preliminary applications for the Prop 1 IRWM funding are due to the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority on January 21, 2019, and the project team is currently working with other agencies in the region to assemble a highly competitive application package. If selected to move forward in the process, final grant applications will be due in June 2019.
Besides Title XVI and Prop 1 funding, other funding opportunities are also currently being explored.
HOW WILL REPLENISH BIG BEAR BE FUNDED?
The Replenish Big Bear project will send a consistent flow of clean water into Big Bear Lake and increase lake levels by up to five feet in dry years. The project will do this by retaining high quality treated water within Big Bear Valley. Since 1980, 32 billion gallons of water have been pumped from Big Bear Valley to irrigate Lucerne Valley crops. This amount is equal to 1 1/3 lakes, says BBARWA General Manager David Lawrence.
Replenish Big Bear is an innovative solution to record low lake levels. Big Bear Lake has had extremely low levels in the past 15 years, with lows of approximately 17 feet below full recorded in 2004, 2016, and in early 2018. As of the end of November 2018, the lake was 18’5” feet down from full, less than 40 percent full.
"The 2018-19 winter in California has all but ended the drought. But the next one could start tomorrow, according to Reggie Lamson, general manager of the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power. Lamson is also involved with the Replenish Big Bear project, which is part of a joint powers authority charged with sustaining the water supply in the Valley."
Read the full Grizzly story here.
PREPARING NOW FOR THE FUTURE
Over the past six months, the Replenish Big Bear story has been shared with more than 300 community members at local events and presentations! Students ranging from Big Bear Elementary, Middle, and High School have had the opportunity to learn about the project, and some have even toured the Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency plant. The project has also been presented to other organizations such as the Senior’s Center and Bear Valley Contractor Association.
As we continue to share the Replenish Big Bear story, we are supporting a new legacy of water sustainability!
SHARING THE REPLENISH BIG BEAR STORY
"There are four managers in Big Bear Valley who are passionate about a joint project. In fact, they are almost giddy when they talk about it even if the giddiness is tempered with the knowledge that there is hard work ahead to see the project to fruition. But make no mistake, these four are determined this project will be completed"
Read the full Grizzly story here.
SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT REPLENISHES VALLEY IN MULTIPLE WAYS