PALMDALE — A proposal to extend a pipeline for carrying recycled water for two miles along 50th Street East between avenues N and L to provide water for agricultural use will aid farmers in the area and provide a use for water treated to a tertiary level from the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts’ wastewater treatment plant.
The proposed project received initial support Thursday from the Antelope Valley State Water Contractors Association, where the board agreed to proceed with an application for the project to be included in the Antelope Valley Integrated Regional Water Plan project list. Inclusion in the project list would allow the proposal to qualify for grant funding.
The proposed line would tap into an existing recycled water line, creating an extension north down 50th Street East, where it passes through farmland.
“That would make recycled water available for agricultural use,” said Peter Thompson II, the assistant general manager. “It hits more on an overall, Antelope Valley-wide water management benefit.”
The benefits include providing timely use for the recycled water, and may potentially reduce the use of groundwater in the area, a concern as the groundwater basin has been depleted over the years and is now subject to pumping restrictions through a court settlement. In areas that are more depleted, lessening the use of groundwater may help to refill the aquifer faster, Thompson said.
“The impact it can create is huge, just with two miles,” Commissioner Marco Henriquez said.
The court adjudication meant farmers’ allotments of groundwater were greatly reduced, causing some to leave agriculture, farmer John Calandri said.
Calandri called the project “a lifeline” for agriculture by providing an avenue for agriculture to continue providing food and jobs. The tertiary-treated water also opens the way for organic farming, he said.
“I think it’s an incredible project,” he said. “This is an A-plus project from my perspective.”
The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts have invested heavily in modern wastewater treatment plants and storage with the intent the recycled water be available for use, said Ray Tremblay, head of facilities planning for the districts.
“The goal and the priority of our board has been to supply this water to public agencies to meet the recycled water demands for the Valley,” he said. “This would be a very good use of reclaimed water.”
Use of the recycled water, which requires designated pipelines, has been stagnant the last few years, Tremblay said.
At this preliminary point in the process, there is not yet an estimated cost for the project.
Once the project is established on the project list, the AVSWCA would look to hand it off to another group to pursue, as it does not have a direct benefit to the state water contractors, Thompson said.
But, an argument could be made for the association’s role in it, board Chairman Robert Parris said.
“Any project that redirects recycled water and helps the basin is a good project for us,” he said.
Palmdale Water District and the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, as well as the Antelope Valley Watermaster — the entity administering the court settlement — could also play a role, he said.
“The more we work together and the more we start viewing this on a regional basis, the better it’s going to get,” Parris said.
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