Last month we told the story behind the story in the Los Angeles Times that featured the hard work of the Rebuild SoCal Partnership (RSCP) to help the tiny town of Needles deal with a big problem. 

This month we’ve got more news from Needles, good news, and we are happy to report that once again the RSCP is a prime mover in the tale.

We warned that Needles was likely to run out of water if the town’s sole well pump broke down. That happened. The day after the Times story ran, there was a power outage that knocked out the variable-frequency drive (VFD), a type of motor drive used in electro-mechanical drive systems to control AC motor speed and torque by varying motor input frequency and voltage.

The city didn’t happen to have a spare VFD laying around, but, with the help of RSCP’s relationship with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), they were able to find one in Phoenix and within 24 hours they had their pump back. The city relied on two operational storage tanks during the outage to get through the day with temperatures exceeding 115 degrees. By the time the well was returned to operation, only 16 feet of water remained in the storage tanks.

Three Million Plus from the SWRCB

The RSCPhad been working with Needles since January on finding a source of funding for the construction of a new well. We toiled with the State Water Resources Control Board to get money from the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience program (SAFER). After a long eight months, the Times article and the well failure, the Water Board finally released money – $3.1 million ($1.9 for the well, and the rest for the Lily Hill Booster Station).

When we first told you about this effort, we mentioned the Times article created enough interest that our Senators, State Assemblymember, State Senator and San Bernardino County Supervisor, contacted RSCPand Needles to investigate the possibility to expedite funding for drilling a new well. We don’t know with certainty what the political folks added to the push, but we are pretty sure it didn’t hurt. 

The Times ran another story reporting about the funding, but this time they didn’t mention the role that RSCP played in the drama. Because the Engineering Contractors’ Association is a founding member of the RSCP, we thought you should know the rest of the story.

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman Email: [email protected]