Coachella Valley Water District Moves Forward with Plans for New Groundwater Replenishment Facility

Coachella Valley Water District

Coachella Valley Water District’s (CVWD) Board of Directors today approved hiring a consultant to design a new groundwater replenishment facility in Palm Desert to help improve groundwater levels in the mid-valley.

To date, more than 3.3 million acre-feet of water has been returned to the aquifer at replenishment facilities throughout the Coachella Valley. The proposed facility would add up to 25,000 acre-feet per year, approximately the same amount of groundwater used by 50,000 homes.

“Groundwater levels in the west and east ends of the Coachella Valley have benefited greatly from our groundwater replenishment program and cooperation with private groundwater users and the community. The mid-valley has been an area of focus since 2009 and we believe this project will have the same success,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett.

The facility would be built in two phases with the first set of ponds on CVWD property south of the offices on Hovley Lane and north of the wastewater reclamation plant on Cook Street. The second phase of ponds would be built within the Whitewater River Stormwater Channel adjacent to the plant.

Construction of the first phase of ponds could begin in early 2018.

Total cost to evaluate, design and construct the facility is estimated at approximately $9.8 million. These costs include environmental review required for the proposed project.  Most of the funding will come from the West Valley Replenishment Fund, which generates revenue primarily from the Replenishment Assessment Charge paid by public and private entities that use a well to pump groundwater.

Under the proposal, additional Colorado River water would be delivered to existing facilities in Palm Desert and diverted into the new replenishment ponds. Colorado River water is a source of drinking water for 33 million people. It is high quality and requires no treatment before it percolates into the aquifer through a natural filtration process.

Colorado River water is already delivered to Palm Desert facilities to blend with recycled water and create a larger quantity of non-potable water for golf course to use in lieu of groundwater. Expansion of this non-potable system to more golf courses is another priority identified in CVWD’s Water Management Plan, a blueprint for maintaining long-term sustainability of the aquifer.

This would be the valley’s fourth replenishment facility. CVWD began operating facilities near Windy Point soon after forming in 1918 to capture snow melt and other runoff from the Whitewater River. The facility was later expanded through a partnership with Desert Water Agency and the two agencies began receiving imported water at the location in 1973.

Additional replenishment sites are located near Desert Hot Springs and in south La Quinta.

A recent analysis showed that groundwater levels in the east valley have risen over 31 feet on average since the Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility became operational.

 “CVWD’s Water Management Plan identifies a number of possible projects and programs to help stabilize groundwater levels in the face of future growth and climate change,” Barrett said. “In addition to water conservation, increased groundwater replenishment and expansion of nonpotable water for irrigation customers are key tools identified to improve the aquifer.”