PALMDALE — With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the Valley.
Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.
“This project is made to put water in the ground,” Palmdale City Manager James Purtee said.
Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer did the honors Thursday, turning the valve to release water at a rate of 1,500 gallons per minute into the first basin, during a ceremony to celebrate the project’s completion, after 13 months of construction.
The project will be used to pipe State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct to the series of six basins, where it will be allowed to soak into the ground and recharge the aquifer below, effectively storing it underground.
Surrounding the recharge ponds is a nature park with pathways and informational signs regarding the desert environment. In the future, this park area will also feature shade structures and picnic areas.
The $17 million project is a joint effort with the Palmdale Water District, the City of Palmdale, Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, the Los Angeles County Water Districts and the state Department of Water Resources.
It is unique in the extent of the collaboration between various agencies, officials said.
“I have to say that one of the most impressive things about this project is how so many different agencies worked together,” Hofbauer said. “That’s sort of precedent-setting in the Valley.”
Construction began last fall with the creation of a turnout in the California Aqueduct south of Elizabeth Lake Road. This is connected to a 48-inch pipeline which carries the water to the recharge basins.
The area is one of the best in the region for recharging the aquifer, officials said, and water will percolate at the rate of 1.5 feet per day.
Eventually, recycled water from the wastewater treatment plant will also be piped to the recharge ponds to add to the underground aquifer.
“It’s a perfect location for a project like this,”
Funding for the collaborative project included $6.5 million from the state Department of Water Resources from Prop. 1E water bond funds, $2.5 million from AVEK, $1.25 million each from the Palmdale Water District and Los Angeles County and the remainder from the city of Palmdale, which is leading the construction.
“We created a project that is going to benefit residents of the Antelope Valley for generations to come,” AVEK General Manager Dwayne Chisam said.
State Sen. Scott Wilk said people expect clean water when they turn the taps, “and they never think anything about it.”
Assemblyman Tom Lackey said it’s a great day for the Antelope Valley — not just for Palmdale, but the entire region.
“It’s just so refreshing to see water storage actually getting a chance,” he said.