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CWA establishes local supply funding program

 

Last updated 2/8/2007 at Noon



The San Diego County Water Authority voted to establish a new grant funding program to facilitate studies and investigation of new local supply opportunities.

A unanimous CWA board vote January 25 established the Local Investigations and Studies Assistance (LISA) program along with implementing principles for the program.

“This item represents the culmination of a process that was initiated by board direction back in July,” said Bob Yamada, whose CWA title is Seawater Desalination Program Manager. “The objective of the program, of course, is to support the Urban Water Management Plan.”

The CWA is investigating regional seawater desalination programs, but some member agencies are contemplating desalination programs on a smaller scale. In addition to seawater desalination, these smaller-scale programs also include treatment of brackish groundwater. Groundwater conjunctive use projects, which utilize surface water for storage in a groundwater basin, are eligible for the LISA program, and other potential local supplies include recycling and non-conjunctive use groundwater. The CWA’s Urban Water Management Plan relies on member agencies to develop an additional 47,000 annual acre feet of local groundwater and recycled water production between 2005 and 2020.

In July the CWA board directed staff to meet with member agency general managers to determine the level of need to develop a new grant funding program which would focus on the early conceptual development of new local supplies. The meeting with the general managers was held August 15, and the general managers identified a need for “seed money” to initiate the projects and also recommended a ten percent set-aside from SB 1765 funds provided by the state for groundwater conjunctive use projects.

CWA staff then proceeded to work with a Local Projects Ad Hoc Committee, which included representatives from the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, to develop recommendations for the structure and implementation of the new program. The committee had meetings in November, December, and early January. CWA staff and committee members jointly developed recommendations for a program and implementing principles.

The overall program goal is to fund local groundwater, desalination, and recycling studies and investigations which could lead to new local water supply or increased dry-year supplies. The restrictions on SB 1765 projects currently limit the program application to groundwater conjunctive use projects, but during the budget process money for non-conjunctive use projects will be proposed. The initial proposals are not expected to be brought before the CWA board for approval until July 2007, and further definitions of performance criteria will also return to the board for approval at a later date after CWA staff works with member agencies on the criteria.

Eligible studies and investigations will include early project development activities such as feasibility studies and subsequent project development up to and including preparation of environmental impact documents for the full-scale project. Detailed design, construction, and operation activities will not be eligible for LISA funding. While only CWA member agencies are eligible for funding, a member agency can apply to sponsor another local agency, although all contracts and funding obligations will be between the CWA and the sponsoring agency.

The Request For Proposals (RFP) process will be competitive; due to the currently available SB 1765 funding CWA staff will initiate separate RFP processes for conjunctive use projects and other projects. A review panel will consist of CWA staff and board members and of representatives from member agencies not submitting proposals. Each agency will be limited to a maximum award of $750,000 per funding cycle, and the agency must match the award amount. Prior to the release of the RFP, CWA staff and the committee will finalize the evaluation criteria for which the proposals will be scored.

The member agency match will be primarily external, or consultant and third-party costs, but may include some specialized in-kind costs of agency staff. However, the CWA will only reimburse external costs.

Once the performance criteria to ensure completion in a timely manner and proper expenditure of grant funds is approved, the applicants will be notified of the performance criteria which must be met.

The creation of the LISA program was received enthusiastically by Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Keith Lewinger, whose is also FPUD’s representative to the CWA board. FPUD is working with Camp Pendleton on a conjunctive use project.

“We’ll be applying to LISA to help fund the planning studies,” Lewinger said. “We’re very optimistic that we’ll be able to get some of that funding.”

 

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