After three years of planning, East Valley Water District broke ground on its Sterling Natural Resource Center and is ready to begin construction on the $150 million waste water recycling plant at Del Rosa Drive and Fifth Street, which will recharge the Bunker Hill Basin with up to 10 million gallons of water a day.
Before a large crowd of supportive residents, water professionals and elected officials East Valley Water District General Manager John Mura outlined the district’s design meant to make the 14-acre facility a community resource as well as a water resource.
Construction, by Balfour Beatty, is scheduled to begin Dec. 1 and take 30 to 33 months.
As laid out in a model on display for guests, the state-of-the-art membrane bioreactor treatment plant will filter and treat wastewater on the lot east of Del Rosa while a community center and garden will support a variety of community programs west of Del Rosa.
The plant will use the latest membrane bioreactor technology from Fibracast Ltd. and will be quiet and odorless. According to Fibracast CEO Diana Mourato Benedek, this latest filtration membrane technology helped reduce the footprint of the treatment plant by half and is more cost effective than earlier designs.
The plant was designed by Ruhnau Clarke Architects with consultation from Arcadis.
The plant will open with a capacity for 8 million gallons a day and be ready for expansion to 10 million gallons a day, said Mura.
To fund the project East Valley was awarded $6.7 million in state grant funds and $119 million in low-interest loans from the California’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Another portion of the project, about 40 percent when complete, will be funded by development fees from approximately 5,000 units of new development scheduled for the district’s service area.
Also the $8 million per year that district customers currently pay to San Bernardino Municipal Water Department for wastewater treatment will be changed to charges used to operate East Valley’s new plant.
“Our aquifers are thirsty the Bunker Hill Basin is at historic lows and yet every single day we let 6 million gallons of water leave this region to go to another place where they use it, but the Sterling Natural Resource Center is going to stop that,” East Valley Water District Board President Chris Carrillo said of the need for water conservation. “It’s going to capture that resource. It’s going to keep it here locally for all of us to use here in our community.”
Mura was most proud of the center’s focus to be a community resource. It will feature a park with water feature and demonstration garden, a picnic area, a museum, outdoor theater and educational space.
The educational space will include classrooms and labs to be used in developing a water technologies career pathway in partnership with neighboring Indian Springs High School.
“We want to provide some additional value to our ratepayers through recreational opportunities and providing educational opportunities for students and adult learners and, most importantly, have a community center where people can gather and meet and really enjoy a peaceful setting,” Mura said. “So we can hopefully inspire the next generation of our local youth to be involved in engineering, sciences and other fields. Our hope is to create a program so high school students can graduate with the certifications needed so they can go right into the industry with a job before they graduate.”
“We’re going to have a state-of-the-art, world-class community center to be a resource for our community,” Carrillo said of the facility. “It will be a place to bring your kids for a barbecue, a place to rent space for a birthday or quinceañera. It will be a place where we educate our youth, a place to inspire our future water leaders.”