Eastern Municipal Water District

Action/Info Item

Santa Ana River Conservation and Conjunctive Use Program (SARCCUP) Update


Department:Groundwater Management & Facilities PlanningSponsors:
Category:Action/Info ItemMeeting Workflows:Board Planning Committee Workflow


  1. Printout
  2. Presentation


In 2013, five regional water agencies within the Santa Ana River Watershed initiated a collaborative effort to identify a watershed-scale project and prepare a joint application for Proposition 84 funding.  The group includes representatives from the following regional water agencies:


·         Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD)

·         Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA)

·         Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC)/Orange County Water District (OCWD)

·         San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley)

·         Western Municipal Water District (WMWD)


The Santa Ana River Conservation and Conjunctive Use Program (SARCCUP) was successful in receiving $55 million in grant funds from Proposition 84 through the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  SARCCUP consists of three main program elements:


·         Water Use Efficiency:  Support for Agencies to Convert to Budget-Based Rates

·         Habitat Creation and Arundo Donax Removal

·         Watershed-Scale Cooperative Water Banking Program


The Watershed-Scale Cooperative Water Banking Program allows wet-year water to be stored in groundwater basins for later use during dry years or for emergencies.  The other two program elements conserve water by promoting conservation and replacing high-water consuming Arundo Donax with low-water use native plant species.


To help refine and optimize facilities for the water banking program, a decision support model was developed.  The model was used to help the SARCCUP agencies evaluate benefits and costs associated with various proposed facility alternatives to the original proposed banking facilities.  The decision support model was also used to remove projects that did not show a costeffective benefit and to add projects that did show significant benefits.


Revised Water Banking Program Facilities

There have been several changes to the water banking facilities by various SARCCUP agencies since the program was initially developed.  Recent changes include both IEUA and Valley removing all components of water banking facilities and instead, WMWD and OCWD adding water banking facilities for the program.  This has resulted in a reduction of about 44,000 acre-feet (AF) of banking capacity.  The storage capacity was reduced from 180,000 AF to a range of 130,000 – 144,000 AF.  Although this range represents a reduction to the conjunctive use portion of SARCCUP, other components of SARCCUP will not be affected.  These include improving 640 acres of riparian habitat, creating approximately 3.5 stream miles of aquatic habitat for sensitive species such as the Santa Ana Sucker, and conserving 2,412 AF by implementation of budget-based rates by approximately five retail water agencies.


Despite this recent change, SARCCUP still remains one of the largest storage programs in Southern California, as it has more storage capacity than Lake Perris, Big Bear Lake or Lake Silverwood.  The price per acre-foot for delivering SARCCUP water, which averages $1,120 per AF when delivered to member agencies of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), is still competitive with other regional storage programs largely because it takes advantage of existing local infrastructure and available storage within the Santa Ana River Watershed.  DWR has been informed of this change in the project benefits and initial responses have been positive that the grant award will not be reduced.  Currently, the total project cost is approximately $150 million, consisting of $55 million in grant funds and $95 million in local cost-share.


The project management costs, water use efficiency costs and the work developing and utilizing the decision support model continue to be shared equally by all five SARCCUP agencies.


SARCCUP Operational Scenarios/Operating Agreement with MWD

The SARCCUP agencies continue to work with MWD to define operating scenarios that will be defined in a joint agreement among MWD and the MWD member agencies.  Recently, two meetings were held between MWD and the SARCCUP agencies to review the draft Operational Term Sheet and presentation that detailed the scenarios for purchasing, transferring, and banking surplus imported water made available by Valley. Significant progress was made at these two meetings and EMWD staff is preparing what is intended to be the final draft of the Operational Term Sheet for MWD review.  MWD and Valley are working on an updated agreement that will allow MWD to purchase surplus Valley water when Valley declares a surplus of supplies from the State Water Project.  When MWD purchases surplus Valley water, the SARCCUP agencies will be able to purchase up to fifty percent for groundwater banking and the water can be designated as either local supply or extraordinary supply.  There was consensus from both MWD staff and the SARCCUP agencies on the majority of the language in the Operational Term Sheet and the issues that MWD is concerned with are currently being addressed by the SARCCUP agencies in order to continue advancement of this program.


EMWD’s Project Update

EMWD is receiving approximately $13 million in grant funds for conservation measures and to develop and allocate 19,500 AF in the San Jacinto Basin for recharge and extraction capacity of 6,500 AFY over a three year dry period.  The project includes construction of three new groundwater extraction wells (Wells 201, 202 and 203) and the 39acre Mountain Avenue West recharge facility.  Drilling is complete for Wells 201 and 202 and will soon be completed for Well 203.  Bids for the construction of the Mountain Avenue West recharge facility will be accepted this summer.  EMWD’s project components and banking capacity have not changed throughout the duration of the SARCCUP program and will still receive an estimated $13 million in grant funds.


Next Steps

Upcoming steps for the SARCCUP program are as follows:


·         SAWPA to revise the Proposition 84 grant agreement with DWR based on the new SARCCUP facilities and costs through Amendment No. 2;

·         SAWPA to revise the subgrantee agreements with each of the affected SARCCUP agencies to reappropriate costs based on the recent changes to the facilities; and

·         The SARCCUP agencies to develop and execute an Operating Agreement with MWD to secure the ability to purchase, transfer and bank water purchased as extraordinary supply.

Financial/Strat Plan/Enviro


No additional funds are being requested at this time. This item is informational only.



Water Supply Diversity and Reliability: Develop and implement a portfolio of projects and management techniques to achieve a reliable and cost-effective balance of water supplies utilizing imported, local and recycled water sources.



This project is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared in conformance with California Code of Regulations Title 14, Chapter 3, Article 7, Section 15080, et seq. The Final EIR was certified and adopted by the Board on June 20, 2018.


This item is informational only.

Meeting History

Jul 11, 2019 3:30 PM  Board Planning Committee Regular Meeting
draft Draft
Jul 17, 2019 9:00 AM  Board of Directors Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Mr. Powell provided a presentation on this item