REDLANDS – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and local partners today commemorated the completion of a project to extend the State Water Project’s East Branch Aqueduct to bring additional supplies to communities in eastern San Bernardino County.
The East Branch Extension was designed and built in partnership with the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency. The extension allows local water managers to further diversify their water portfolios, making them more resilient and better able to meet the challenges of a variable and changing climate. In addition to providing direct water deliveries to communities, the extension also will deliver water to groundwater spreading basins to recharge area aquifers.
“This project achieves many of the Department’s goals for 21st century water management,” said DWR State Water Project Deputy Director Joel Ledesma. “It provides greater diversity and flexibility to local water managers and reduces demand on local aquifers while rebuilding their long-term health for drought resilience. This project is a testament to the power of local partnerships. Water would not be flowing through this pipeline without these partners.”
In addition to San Bernardino, the East Branch Extension provides a reliable water supply to Mentone, Redlands, Cherry Valley, Beaumont, and San Gorgonio communities.
“This project is about perseverance and strong partnerships that have followed through on the commitments made 58 years ago when the State Water Project was built,” said Douglas Headrick, general manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. “We are now able to ensure reliable, secure water for existing and future customers, which will allow for the continued growth of our community.”
The East Branch Extension was constructed in multiple phases over the course of almost 20 years. The initial phase, launched in 1999, completed construction of three pipeline reaches, the Crafton Hills Dam and Reservoir, as well as the Foothill, Greenspot, and Crafton Hills pump stations. Phase II includes the new Citrus Reservoir and pump station, enlargement of the Crafton Hills Dam, and additional pipelines. Planners and engineers conducted extensive studies to assess the necessary combination of facilities, appurtenances, and alignments that would best meet the needs of the communities served by the project extension.
The current cost of the project is $411 million, which matches the most recent 2014 estimate. The size and scope of the project evolved over the years, including an increase to Craft Reservoir’s storage capacity, from 80 acre-feet to 220 acre-feet, to meet the area’s growing demands. The project is paid for by San Bernardino and San Gorgonio Pass water agencies.
“While the need to conserve water remains critical, the East Branch Extension will bring reliable, sustainable water to this region,” said Jeff Davis, general manager of the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency. “Our communities and local economy would not be what they are without State Water Project resources, and this project will ensure our continued success.”
As a result of the project, the East Branch Aqueduct now has the capacity to supply as much as 2,623,100 acre-feet of water a year to 13 local water agencies. Additionally, local water systems were upgraded, automated, and fully integrated with the SWP.
East Branch Extension photos are available online at DWR’s Pixel photo gallery. We will update this gallery throughout the day.
Maggie Macias, Information Officer, Department of Water Resources
(916) 653-8743 | Maggie.Macias@water.ca.gov