By Deb Murphy
And the winner is…..
Following a couple of community workshops and a broad range of potential end uses for the first reclaimed water project in the Owens Valley, consultants RO Anderson’s report came as no surprise. The firm zeroed in on the most practical, most do-able of roughly 18 possibilities: provide irrigation to a portion of a mitigation project southeast of Big Pine.
The project, restoring native vegetation on a 160-acre parcel, never reached more than a 2-percent success rate—primarily for lack of water. The acreage is just south of Big Pine Community Service District’s waste water operation. Using a subsurface irrigation system, the reclaimed water won’t need any additional treatment.
The cost of the delivery system is estimated at $1.5 million with an annual operation and maintenance cost of $6,200. The study includes the possibility of adding a Photovoltaic Solar Array to generate the energy and offset the O&M costs.
The feasibility study was funded two years ago with Prop. 84 monies through the Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Program. The final study took into consideration all the regulatory and technical details needed to take the next steps—grant applications to complete the project.
Some of the suggestions offered up during the workshop process would have been more visible and in some ways more beneficial to Big Pine residents. The hitches were the limitations of waste water aerated but not disinfected plus the cost of infrastructure to deliver the water to Big Pine schools and parks.
The benefit to Big Pine could come in the form of a water swap with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. According to County Water Department Mitigation Manager Larry Freilich, some of the other water-use suggestions–watering trees near Mendenhall Park, irrigation on the Big Pine school campus or the 5.5-acre parcel just south of the school—could be the recipient of traded LADWP water.
That discussion is on the agenda for Tuesday’s County/LADWP Technical Group meeting.