Water District Grant


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KEEN TO BE GREEN: Irvine’s thriving plant scenery withstands blazing drought.

Karen Wang, News Editor

The Irvine Water District received a $12.2 million grant for its Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project on Aug. 18, which will increase storage capacity for recycled water from 188.3 million gallons to over 1.6 billion.

The grant was secured by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who allocated $310 million towards combating a “Western megadrought,” made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law President Biden signed last November. The bill invested over $8.3 billion in the Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects, and the funding will aid 25 water recycling projects in the West, 20 of which are in California.

Previously, Irvine’s excess treated water during the winter months has been discarded into the ocean, but for IRWD’s 500,000 customers, this will no longer be the case. Recycled water currently makes up for 80% of public and commercial irrigation in Irvine, and every drop counts according to IRWD Communications Manager John Fabris.

“Recycled water really is the reason, when you drive around the Irvine Ranch Water District, why things are so green and beautiful even though we’re in a statewide drought,” Fabris said to ABC7.
As a whole, IUSD uses over 600 acre-feet of recycled water each year, conserving 200 million gallons of drinking water annually, according to the IRWD. And at Northwood, The Oak and familiar greenery on Wolf Trail are all sustained by recycled water.

“Since the school opened in 1999, all of our ornamental planters, grass and fields have been supported by reclaimed water, and we’ve never had an issue with it,” head custodian and plant supervisor Ernie Medina said.

Shifting Irvine towards self-sufficiency, the Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project aims to reducehigh costs for the city in the long term.

“Having stored water typically keeps costs down significantly, though it costs a great amount to set up these systems initially,” City Manager Oliver Chi said. “Without storage, transporting the water great distances hinders the ability to draw on water when there’s high demand in summer months.”

The Syphon Reservoir is not expected to be completed until 2028, but until then, Irvine and its residents lead the charge towards a water-conscious California.

“Truly exemplifying where forward thinking can take us, IRWD has innovated a critical piece of infrastructure that is best in class,”Chi said.