The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 142, which authorizes more than $70 million in federal assistance for water quality improvements in Orange County and the Inland Empire.
The bill, authored by Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA), helps improve Santa Ana River water quality and expand the existing groundwater desalination facilities in Chino, which will help improve water reliability for Southern California.
Of the federal assistance funds, up to $50 million will go toward expansion of Chino desalination facilities, which will provide more drinking water to the residents of Chino, Chino Hills, Ontario, Jurupa and Norco. Up to $20 million would go toward OCWD's expansion of its natural wetlands treatment of the Santa Ana River. With passage of the bill, OCWD's goal is to send 100 percent of Santa Ana River flows through natural wetlands treatment to improve water quality. Currently, 50 percent of the river flows are treated by OCWD wetlands.
"The Inland Empire Utilities Agency is extremely thankful to Congressman Miller for his hard work on this important legislation," said John L. Anderson, IEUA board president. "We also thank Congressmen Baca, Calvert, Dreier and Congresswoman Napolitano for their support in moving this bill forward."
"Orange County Water District greatly appreciates the federal assistance from H.R. 142 and is pleased to see the bill moving forward," said Denis Bilodeau, OCWD board president. "These funds will help us expand our wetlands treatment process and further improve Orange County's water quality."
H.R. 142 will be referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, subcommittee on water and power, in fall of this year for approval before moving to President Bush for final sign-off.
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages and protects the huge groundwater basin underlying north and central Orange County. OCWD is a special district, separate from the County of Orange or any city government. It was created by the California Legislature in 1933 to oversee Orange County's groundwater basin. The groundwater basin supplies more than half of the water needs for 2.3 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda.
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency distributes imported water from Metropolitan Water District and provides industrial/municipal wastewater collection and treatment services, operates the Chino 1 Desalter, and other related utility services for a 242-square-mile area in the western portion of San Bernardino County. Approximately 700,000 people reside in IEUA's service area.