Inyo and Mono counties are dividing more than $1 million in state funds for seven on-the-ground water projects in the Eastern Sierra.
The program is managed by the Inyo-Mono Regional Water Management Group, consisting of 17 voting member agencies and dozens more participants.
The IRWM includes Inyo and Mono counties, local tribes and community service districts.
The projects funded in this round of grants range geographically from Tecopa in southeast Inyo County to Coleville in Mono County and aims to address water quality issues, supply safe and reliable drinking water and rehabilitate infrastructure.
The $1,075,000 received in the first round of grants through the Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management program will be distributed to the Amargosa Conservancy for a safe drinking water feasibility study in Tecopa; the Eastern Sierra Unified School District for the Coleville High School water project; the Wheeler Crest Community Service District for the New Hilltop Well project; the Mammoth Community Water District for a well rehabilitation project; and the Inyo County Public Works Department for the County Service Area 2 (Aspendell) sewer upgrade project and the Pump Redundancy Project.
Each member agency that received a portion of the grant will be required to make a matching contribution.
According to Program Director Mark Drew, the Amargosa Conservancy will receive $66,500; the Eastern Sierra Unified School District will receive $250,000; Round Valley School District will receive $83,800; the Wheeler Crest Community Service District will receive $57,000; the Mammoth Lakes Community Water District will receive $100,000; and the Inyo County Public Works Department will receive $366,000 for its CSA sewer upgrade and $62,000 for its pump operations redundancy study.
“These projects are all aimed at water supply and public utility infrastructure improvements,” said Inyo County Water Director Bob Harrington, who has been Inyo County’s lead on the IRWM project.
In Tecopa, Harrington said the Amargosa Conservancy will be looking at how best to improve water quality.
“The drinking water situation out there is dire,” Harrington said. “This is a study to look at what options are available to improve the situation.”
In Round Valley, Harrington said the school has been having problems with its well. He said the grant will pay for potential improvements or, if the situation calls for it, a new well to be drilled.
“The CSA 2 project is to improve the sewer line from Aspendell to the treatment plant,” Harrington said. “If the treatment plant fails, it may impact Bishop Creek and create problems for the city, the tribes and West Bishop.”
The Pump Redundancy Study, Harrington said, aims to make improvements to county-run water systems, which include Lone Pine, Independence and Laws.
Harrington said it is currently unclear exactly what water system or systems will be included in the project, as the county is currently working to see how far it can stretch the grant money.
Specifically, the project will look at an automatic mechanism that pumps water from wells into water storage tanks.
“If that fails, the whole water system fails,” Harrington said.
The IRWM formed in February of 2008 as a response to funding opportunities through the California Department of Water Resources.
The result was the formation of a 17-member group of stakeholders “working together to seek solutions for regional water needs,” Drew said.
For more information on the program, visit www.inyomonowater.org .