REP. OBERNOLTE SECURES $960,000 FOR REPLENISH BIG BEAR, JULY 2021 

July 30, 2021 - U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte (CA-08) secured $11 million in funding for projects in California’s 8th District that passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of this week’s major appropriations package. This includes $960,000 for the Replenish Big Bear project aimed at providing a reliable and sustainable local water supply.

 

“As the drought in California continues to worsen, it is more important now than ever that projects like Replenish Big Bear receive the funding they need to secure reliable water resources for our community and protect our natural resources,” said Rep. Obernolte. “I am proud to fight for funding to support this project and to bolster efforts to recover and preserve our valuable water supply.”

 

“We appreciate Congressman Obernolte’s support and dedication to the Big Bear Valley. The Replenish Big Bear Project is a great opportunity to improve groundwater sustainability and enhance our natural ecosystem,” said Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency General Manager David Lawrence.

 

The $960,000 in funding will go to the Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency (BBARWA) to support the Replenish Big Bear Project, a recycled water project aimed at recovering local water resources currently discharged outside the Santa Ana Watershed to replenish the local water supply, protect the Big Bear Valley environment, and strengthen the tourism industry that drives Big Bear’s recreation-based economy. Currently, about 800 million gallons of water, or half of Big Bear Valley’s annual water supply, is disposed of each year. Replenish Big Bear will recapture and treat this lost water to drinking water standards and use it to enhance water levels in the local groundwater basin, in Big Bear Lake, and in other area water bodies.

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REGULATORY COORDINATION UPDATE, JULY 2021

Coordination with regulatory agencies to determine treatment requirements and obtain the necessary permits is the most critical task and has been the primary focus of project efforts over the last 2 years. The Replenish Big Bear team is coordinating closely with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Division of Drinking Water (DDW), to ensure the project is designed to meet strict state and federal standards to protect the environment and public health. Since the launch of the project, the team has participated in eleven (11) meetings with the Regional Board, EPA and DDW to discuss potential permitting pathways, present the results of several technical analyses requested by the regulators, and confirm the treatment process that is needed to meet the water quality requirements for Big Bear Lake, which are among the strictest in the state. 

 

The regulatory process has been more complex and lengthier than expected and has extended the project schedule. At the most recent meetings in February and April 2021, the project team received clear feedback from the regulators on the path forward and is ready to take the next steps toward obtaining permits once the project funding mechanisms are established. The project is now expected to be complete by the end of 2025. 

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WEBSITE UPDATE, JULY 2021

The project website has been updated to reflect the current status and streamline access to key information. The project timeline on the About page has been updated and FAQs have been updated to respond to community questions and moved to a separate page under About for easier access. The new Events page will provide information on future public meetings and other opportunities for community members to get involved, as well as documents from a selection of previous meetings and presentations. Join the mailing list to receive future updates directly to your email.

PREPARING NOW FOR THE FUTURE

"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.

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SHARING THE REPLENISH BIG BEAR STORY

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!

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SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT REPLENISHES VALLEY IN MULTIPLE WAYS

"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.

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FUNDING UPDATE, JULY 2021 

On June 1, 2021, BBARWA fully executed a grant agreement with the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) on behalf of the Replenish Big Bear team for about $4.5 million grant through the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Proposition 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program. This grant will be used to cover costs for project administration, planning, design, environmental documentation, permitting, and construction implementation and can reimburse previous expenses incurred since June 2, 2020.

 

In April 2021, Replenish Big Bear applied for a $7 million grant through the United States Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART Title XVI WIIN Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects grant program for the fiscal year 2021. If awarded, these funds could be used for project administration, planning, design, environmental documentation, permitting, and construction activities, and additional grant funds could be awarded in future rounds of funding.

In 2019, Replenish Big Bear was awarded a $500,000 grant from California’s Proposition 1 Disadvantaged Community Involvement (DCI) Program, which funded regulatory permitting efforts conducted between February 2019 and January 2021. The permitting process is on the critical path, and this grant provided the resources to complete several technical analyses needed to confirm the required level of treatment and move forward in the permitting process with the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) and the Santa Ana Regional Water Control Board.

 

The project team continues to explore additional sources of outside funding to reduce the project cost while working in parallel to establish a funding mechanism for the remaining project costs, including operations and maintenance costs. On June 23, 2021, representatives of BBARWA, BBMWD, BBCCSD and BBLDWP held a public meeting to discuss the project status, benefits, cost and next steps. There was broad support for the project and benefits. The project team is now moving forward with the next step toward determining how to fund the project. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is now under development as a first step to identify project stakeholders and acknowledge how they each benefit from the project, which will lay the groundwork for future cooperative funding discussions and additional grant opportunities to increase affordability. 

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REPLENISH BIG BEAR RECEIVES 
$4.5M IRWM PROP 1 FUNDING AWARD 

Replenish Big Bear was awarded $4,563,338 from the State of California’s, Department of Water Resources (DWR), Proposition 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program. This is the largest IRWM grant awarded in the Santa Ana River Watershed, a testament to the project’s significant community, regional value and broad stakeholder support.

 

In the face of a changing climate, DWR’s IRWM Grant Program is making $403 million in grant funds available for the planning and implementation of water resource projects that benefit disadvantaged communities and water resiliency across the state. This is the largest grant received toward Replenish Big Bear costs and is critical to support a new high-quality water source that will help meet Big Bear Valley’s current and future water needs.

 

Read the full press release here.

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REPLENISH BIG BEAR REACHES FUNDING MILESTONE

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.

 

Read the full press release here.

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HOW WILL REPLENISH BIG BEAR BE FUNDED?

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.

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REPLENISH BIG BEAR WILL INCREASE LAKE LEVELS

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.

For current lake level information, visit: https://www.bbmwd.com/current-lake-stats

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