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

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) last month opened its purse and spent $116 million of the Prop. 1 money approved by voters in November, 2014 for a water recycling system demonstration project from the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

Padre Dam’s facility opened in 2015 at the Ray Stoyer Water Reclamation Facility at Santee Lakes to demonstrate free chlorine capabilities to state regulators. Conceptual approval by the California Water Resources Control Board was announced in May.

While the grant doesn’t include full funding it helps move the project forward to the next step, according to the district, which says the complete project will cost $170 million. The East County Advanced Water Purification Program is a partnership between Padre Dam, Helix Water District, San Diego County and the city of El Cajon. The district provides water, sewer, recycled water and recreation services to nearly 100,000 residents in Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Alpine and other unincorporated areas in East County.

The state grant is part of the money made available by Prop. 1, which included $625 million for recycled water projects. This is the first grant from this segment of the proposition funding which authorized $7.5 billion for water projects around the state. The total includes $2.7 billion for new dams which has not been allocated yet.

The remaining $4.8 billion has been stuck in the SWRCB process for the past 32 months, with money dribbling out, mostly to “administrative costs” and environmental “conservancies.” Less than $400 million has been spent on actual projects to improve water projects around the state, but that may change later this year.

Money for the Rest?

If you are wondering when and where the other billions will pop out, we, like Dodgers fans can only say “wait until next year!”…fiscal year, that is, which started July 1.

The SWRCB is holding local government grant application comment sessions this summer and ECA is attending those in our area to be ready to help when necessary.

On May 2nd, the state issued a revised 46-page document, to start implementing funding project from the bond money through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. It is full of acronyms that leaves you dazed and confused, but it provides a look at the future project applications. Check it out at…Check out the last page of this draft that provides the definitions of all of the acronyms; it’s Rosetta Stone for government speak.