Helping Chino Transform Brackish Groundwater

June 27, 2016

Michael Baker leads multi-phased project to provide drinking water supply to California towns

For residents in the Inland Empire region, the Chino Groundwater Basin is a crucial resource, providing clean drinking water to local communities. As demand for the groundwater source continues to grow and contamination from wastewater threatened the viability of the drinking water supply, Michael Baker International partnered with organizations in the region to help provide a unique solution that would be able to withstand growth, contamination and drought over time.
The basin, which stores more than 5 million acre-feet of water, is managed by the Chino Basin Watermaster (CBWM). In 1999, the CBWM developed the Optimum Basin Management Plan (OBMP) – a strategy to protect the basin from decades of legacy agricultural operations impacting the quality of the water with heavy nitrate loadings and salts and to maximize the beneficial use of the groundwater. A key component of the OBMP was identifying a viable means of treating the impaired water while also controlling groundwater levels in a manner that minimize loss and maximize storage capability.
To implement the plan, the Chino Desalter Authority (CDA) was formed with the goal of constructing facilities to extract, treat and convey the product groundwater to local retail water purveyors. Michael Baker worked with the CDA for the past 16 years for the final two phases of the project.
The CDA, a Joint Exercise of Powers Agency, began the project in 2000 with Phase 1, building The Chino I Desalter, wells and pipelines. Phase 2 included expansion of the Chino I Desalter and the construction of the Chino II Desalter. The treatment facilities extract groundwater from the lower Chino Basin, uses Reverse Osmosis (RO) and Ion-Exchange (IX) to purify the raw water, and distributes drinking water to the cities of Norco, Ontario, Jurupa Community Services District and Santa Ana River Water Company.

ChinoIIDesalterCelebration_201606_0027a-(1).jpgThe Phase 3 Expansion Project included the expansion of the Chino II Desalter and the development of a unique system to treat brine waste. The goal of this phase was to increase desalter groundwater pumping from the lower Chino Basin to approximately 40,000 acre-feet per year (AF/yr) and to provide at least 10 million gallons per day (mgd) of additional product water capacity. Michael Baker’s work on the $140-million project included overseeing and managing the team of consultants and agencies, as well as coordinating grants and compliance.

Michael Baker also designed and constructed a new pump station to boost treated water from the end of the RO/IX blended treatment processes to the Jurupa Community Services District's 1110 Zone distribution system. The Chino II Desalter Product Water Pump Station was designed for an immediate capacity of 10 mgd as well as for a future ultimate capacity of 18 mgd.

“This is truly groundbreaking work for us and for the state of California,” said Mike Tylman, office executive for Michael Baker’s Irvine office. “Our team, led by Cindy Miller (department manager, water supply/wastewater), has served as a trusted partner on the project for 16 years, and we are pleased with this solution that will provide a reliable drinking water source to multiple cities for many years to come.”

Michael Baker was recognized during a dedication ceremony for the Chino II Desalter on June 2, 2016. The project is set to be completed in 2017.