Our Local Water Supplies

You may be surprised to learn that our local drinking water comes exclusively from groundwater. Groundwater is stored in an aquifer which is underground layer of saturated soil or rock that holds water similar to how a sponge holds water. Currently, our groundwater is replenished by rain and snowmelt.

Most communities in California have the luxury of importing water from other areas to help supplement their local supplies but with our location in the mountains we are limited on finding cost-effective, new sources. Now is the time to plan for future water supplies and not wait until our water runs out. Implementing any type of new water supply infrastructure will take years of planning, time to secure funding, efforts to comply with state and federal regulatory agencies and finally permitting and construction.

Replenishing the Water Supply

Due to the constraints and future predictions for local groundwater supplies, BBARWA staff was urged by their Governing Board and other local agencies to consider examining ways to utilize recycled water, which is produced by their wastewater treatment plant for beneficial uses in the Big Bear Valley. Recycled water is currently discharged down the hill through a pipeline to Lucerne Valley. 

In order to study a wide range of alternatives, BBARWA and consultants worked to develop a Recycled Water Master Plan, which includes examination of several recycled water use alternatives including groundwater recharge.

Studies showed groundwater recharge to be a cost-effective alternative. A recharge system would take recycled water and put it through an additional microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection followed by advanced oxidation.

After these additional treatment processes, the purified water is poured into percolation ponds where it blends with rain, snow or blend water and filters naturally into the aquifer through the soil, just as rainwater does. Groundwater recharge simply accelerates the natural water cycle process. A recent study concluded that the addition of purified recycled water to the aquifer will actually improve the quality of our groundwater.

Groundwater recharge is a proven technology that is already being used in a variety of California communities including Orange County, Chino Basin and Los Angeles County. For a list of other groundwater recharge projects and links to their Web sites click here.