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The Community Services District board has approved a grant application to fund the first phase of its recycled water system expansion project. The first phase will provide infrastructure needed to bring recycled water service to Stonehouse Park at an estimated cost of $4 million.

The grant application was conditionally approved at the board goal session Jan. 13 after developer representative John Sullivan sparked a lengthy discussion. Sullivan said the application bypassed a CSD commitment to provide recycled water to the Murieta Gardens commercial area, where he’s building a hotel and shopping center. He said the commitment appears in provisions for the water supply augmentation fee the CSD charges.

“I think what happened is the conversation started heading up toward Stonehouse and the infrastructure facilities to get to Stonehouse. The front-end infrastructure facilities to get to Stonehouse are facilities that go through the Gardens, out Lone Pine Drive and up Lookout Hill tank. But you’re not including it in the Phase 1 project,” Sullivan said. “... I just don’t want you to get the idea that you don’t have longstanding commitments on what the money’s used for first. It’s the board’s ultimate prerogative, but it’s also the prerogative of the developer not to pay if you guys don’t build the projects and the projects are identified in the ordinance. One, a well system. Two, a commercial irrigation loop. ... All those augmentation monies -- I dispute whether you have the right to spend unlimited money doing studies and sending in applications and all that out of water augmentation. You’re supposed to build projects to augment the supply.”

The CSD adopted a policy in 2011 to use recycled water whenever it was feasible, and a 2013 grant-funded study identified the most cost-effective recycled water service areas. The study also estimated the amount of recycled water that would be available after the County Club’s irrigation needs are met. 

The current board made Stonehouse Park a priority for recycled water service.

President Jerry Pasek said he assumed the infrastructure included the commercial loop, since “we cannot get water over to the loop without putting this stuff in.”

The Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grant program limits funding to $1 million per project and has a cost-sharing requirement of at least 50 percent. The CSD’s $3 million share would be funded by water supply augmentation fees and by developer contributions “because they’re required to do infrastructure expansion,” General Manager Darlene Gillum said.  The CSD will also look into securing additional grant funding.

According to the grant application, the recycled water project will ultimately offset potable water demands by 370 acre-feet per year. Phase 1 focuses on providing the infrastructure needed to serve 100 to 200 acre-feet of recycled water along Rancho Murieta’s western boundary, where Stonehouse Park is located. This would offset potable water demands by 60 to 100 acre-feet yearly, according to the application.

Sullivan said he thought additional recycled water would only be available after 400 to 500 houses were built and there would only be 250 to 300 acre-feet beyond what the Country Club uses.

“Without an amendment to the agreement you have with the Country Club and we as the landowners under the Country Club, you’re not going to have any water for the next 500 houses. ... It’s going to be a while,”  Sullivan said.

Gillum said she would check to make sure the commercial loop was included in the project to receive recycled water at some point, and the application would stop if that wasn’t the case.
The board approved the grant application and participation in the Bureau of Reclamation program contingent “upon the outcome regarding the ability to serve the business loop connection.”

In the Jan. 20 meeting packet, Gillum reported she confirmed that the commercial loop will be included and analysis will begin for the connection.

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