The Inland Empire is home to some of the largest deserts in the U.S. with the Mohave in San Bernadino and the Sonoran in Riverside, both occupying two-thirds or more of two of the largest counties in the state.

Water is both scarce and precious in this dry land, and since most of the contractors and suppliers who are part of this association are, in one way or the other, in the water business, it’s an area we keep our collective eye on.

The Engineering Contractors’ Association (ECA) is always striving to keep you up to date on improvement in water issues in our 12-county area. The first issue is that there isn’t enough of it and the second is how we handle it after we’ve used it. 

One of the resource providers on both sides of the equation is the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA). It services 242- square miles of the western section of the IE, distributing imported water, providing industrial/municipal wastewater collection and treatment to more than 875,000 people.

Reaching Local Water Agencies

ECA is working with producers like IEUA to increase the amount of water available in our region and responsibly handle wastewater generated from this increased capacity. It’s a complex and highly technical area for our contractors and their suppliers. As part of that effort, a group of ECA members recently toured the agency’s Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 5 (RP-5) Expansion Project in Chino to get a better understanding of the work involved. The plant serves areas of Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario.

The $430 million project is increasing RP-5’s liquids treatment capacity and providing a new solids handling facility. The liquids treatment capacity of RP-5 will be increased from 15 million gallons per day to 22.5 million gallons per day. This increased supply will meet the State Division of Drinking Water Title 22 Code of Regulations standard for disinfected tertiary recycled water. That is legalese for water that can be used for 42 different state-specified purposes including car washes, landscaping, cooling towers and the like, but not for human consumption in any direct way. See:

With predictions of more drought for California from sciencebased sources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) it is important for our organization to stay on top of water issues at the local level, working to help agencies better serve the consumers in their communities.

By Ray Baca, Executive Director Email: [email protected]