Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project

Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer turns a valve to release water into a recharge basin at the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project Thursday morning.

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,”

Hofbauer said.

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.

(1) comment

Leon Swain

The City of Palmdale did an amazing job of partnering with AVEK, Palmdale Water District and Los Angeles County to make this $17 million dollar project happen over a 13-year period. I congratulate all four agencies for completing this project.

In 2006, eleven public agencies joined to form a Regional Water Management Group to work together to create an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. Members of the group included the City of Palmdale, Los Angeles County Waterworks District 40, Los Angeles County Sanitation District Nos. 14 and 20, Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, Palmdale Water District, Littlerock Creek Irrigation District, A.V. State Water Contractors Association (made up of AVEK, PWD & Littlerock Creek Irrigation District), Quartz Hill Water District, Rosamond Community Services District and the City of Lancaster. Beginning in May 2006, 17 stakeholder meetings were held while developing the draft plan in order to receive public input on the plan. The Integrated Regional Water Management Plan was unanimously approved by all eleven partnering agencies with the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge project ranking the highest of all projects in the original plan for project benefits and meeting the goals of the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.

As the Director of Public Works in Palmdale at the time, I recommended this project be included in the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan because this area of the Amargosa Creek is not only one of the very best recharge areas in the Antelope Valley, it also just happens to be located next to a significant water resource (the California Aqueduct) and is also located above a noted cone of depression in the Antelope Valley groundwater table. In 2007 and 2008, I made presentations to the Palmdale Planning Commission, Palmdale Water District and the Antelope Valley – East Kern Water Agency emphasizing the significance of this project to assist with the long-term sustainability of water resources in the Antelope Valley.

Many people from various public agencies worked cooperatively over a long period of time to make this project a reality and the City of Palmdale was just recently awarded a 2019 American Public Works Association Project of the Year Award for these efforts. Congratulations to the City of Palmdale and all the partnering agencies involved who made the completion of this key water resource project possible. It will enhance water sustainability in the Antelope Valley for many years to come.

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