By Staff Reports
(Victorville)– VVWRA has received a number of grants in recent years that that have saved local member agencies and ratepayers tens of millions of dollars in interest and construction costs, while providing the Victor Valley with much needed infrastructure. Thanks to more than $71 million dollars in grants, VVWRA has launched an industry leading waste to energy program, started construction on two water recycling facilities and is making massive emergency repairs to the sewer interceptor through the Upper Mojave Narrows.
Grants are funds made available for specific projects by government departments, corporations or foundations. They can also take the form of debt forgiveness or incentive refunds. These are funds that do not have to be repaid.
For example, the Phase 3A regulatory improvements to the VVWRA plant received a $3 million dollar principal forgiveness grant. The Phase 3A improvements led to construction of state of the art filtration and UV disinfection projects at the VVWRA plant to increase the availability of recycled water.
Phase 3A Grant $3,000,000
Waste to Energy
VVWRA’s groundbreaking Waste to Energy program has been made possible by a combination of grants, SCE incentive rebates and a unique public/private partnership that has resulted in no additional cost to rate payers. VVWRA teamed with Anaergia Inc. to build the Omnivore system. Anaergia’s recuperative thickener was connected to a retrofitted, formerly de-commissioned anaerobic digester. The result is a dramatic increase in the production of bio-gas, also known as methane. VVWRA is collecting the bio-gas produced by Omnivore as well as the other digesters on the site and is using it to fuel a pair of 800 kwh 2G generators. This eliminates the need for expensive natural gas. The 2G generators are capable of producing enough electricity to meet all of VVWRA power needs, essentially making the plant carbon neutral. In addition, VVWRA has a long term power agreement with Anaergia, locking in that power at a much lower rate than traditional electrical service.
SGIP Grant for PPA from SCE $3,187,500
CEC Grant for Omnivore $2,000,000
Anaergia investment $ 700,000
With the assistance of four different grants, VVWRA has been able to drastically reduce the cost of much needed infrastructure projects, including the two sub-regional water reclamation plants currently under construction in Hesperia and Apple Valley. The total planning, engineering and construction cost for the two sub-regionals is put at about $80 million dollars. VVWRA and its member agencies have managed to obtain about $21 million dollars in grants for the projects. “Those grants amount to a 26% discount on our subregional facilities, which saves our member agencies and ratepayers millions in finance and loan costs”, said VVWRA General Manager Logan Olds. When completed in 2017, the sub-regional water reclamation plants in Apple Valley and Hesperia will be able to recycle up to one million gallons of water per day. The water will initially be used for above ground irrigation at the Hesperia and Apple Valley Golf courses, saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of potable drinking water every day. In addition, the water reclamation plants will help reduce wastewater flow to the main VVWRA treatment facility in Victorville. The reduced flow will put off the need for extremely expensive upgrades to the sewer interceptor system, saving the community the burden of that cost.
Bureau of Reclamation Grant $4,888,000
Prop. 84 Grant $3,000,000
SWCRB Grant $4,000,000
Prop. 1 $9, 181,000
VVWRA has also received a number of incentive rebates from Southern California Edison (SCE) for reducing energy usage through innovative processes. One of the largest energy users at the VVWRA plant is its UV disinfection system. They use large banks of powerful UV lights to disinfect the recycled water before it is sent to the Mojave River Basin. VVWRA Director of Operations Gilbert Perez and his staff have developed a protocol for using the UV lights that dramatically reduces the amount of energy used while still providing the disinfection required by regulators.
SCE incentive refunds (8) $129,328
Mother Nature has given VVWRA one of its biggest challenges. In late 2010, a series of heavy storms severely damaged the sewer line in the Upper Mojave Narrows. The incident was declared a Federal emergency and a temporary emergency bypass line was installed in just 11 days. VVWRA has been working with engineers and construction teams to build a permanent sewer line that avoids environmentally sensitive areas in the Upper Narrows. This project has proven to be costly and dangerous. It’s estimated it will cost about $41 million dollars by the time it is completed in 2016. However, the vast majority of that expense is being picked up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), while just a small percentage is the responsibility of VVWRA’s member agencies and ratepayers.
UN Replacement $33,124,002
UN Emergency $7,954,740
VVWRA began treating wastewater for our region in 1981. While the Victor Valley has experi8enced tremendous growth since 1981, there was a long period where revenue had trouble meeting the need. Beginning in the 1990’s, VVWRA went 15 years without a rate increase. VVWRA has had to raise residential sewer rates moderately to meet the needs of the Victor Valley. However, it is clear, that without the valuable assistance of the tens of millions of dollars of grants, refunds and other financial benefits, VVWRA would have been forced to seek much higher rate increases. By responsibly managing its natural resources and proactively taking advantage of every financial resource made available, VVWRA has been able to keep rate increases to a minimum while providing world class service in water reclamation and energy production. VVWRA is now considered a leader and an innovator in the green energy and wastewater fields. The forward thinking of its Board and management has made VVWRA fiscally responsible while providing top tier service to the Victor Valley at fair and reasonable price.
Total Grants $71,164,570