Padilla, Napolitano, Barragán, Bureau of Reclamation Announce $159 Million for Southern California Water Resilience

WATCH: Padilla announces $159 million to strengthen California drought resilience

LOS ANGELES, CA — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, and Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.-31) and Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.-44) joined the Bureau of Reclamation to announce $159 million in transformational investments for three large-scale water recycling projects in Southern California. Leadership from the three recipients of this major Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding — Metropolitan Water District, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and the City of Ventura — joined the lawmakers and Administration officials for the announcement.

The funding was delivered by a new federal program Padilla secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help invest in large-scale water recycling programs and innovative water reuse projects that strengthen drought resilience across the West. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Bureau of Reclamation is investing a total of $8.3 billion over five years for water infrastructure projects, including rural water, water storage, conservation and conveyance, nature-based solutions, dam safety, water purification and reuse, and desalination.

“We know that it’s only a matter of time until the next devastating drought, which is why we need every tool at our disposal to protect our region’s precious water supplies,” said Senator Padilla. “Today’s announcement, made possible by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments in large-scale water recycling projects, will help us build a more reliable, more resilient water supply in Southern California.”

The program was established to support projects like the Metropolitan Water District’s water recycling program, Pure Water Southern California, which will receive nearly $100 million of this Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to build the largest recycling facility in the world. This recycling program will be instrumental for developing local water solutions and reducing Colorado River water use, potentially producing 150 million gallons of purified water each day, enough to meet the water demands of 1.5 million people. The newly announced federal funding for Pure Water will help advance design work and make necessary improvements to existing infrastructure. Construction could begin as soon as 2025, and the first water could be delivered by 2032.

Additionally, the City of Ventura will receive $30 million for its VenturaWaterPure Program, and LADWP will receive $30 million for the Los Angeles Groundwater Replenishment Project. 

“I want to thank the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, and my friend, Camille Touton, for gathering us to announce this long-awaited enormous investment into our large-scale regional projects,” said Representative Napolitano. “I can’t think of a better facility to be at nor to receive these critical funds: Pure Water. The Pure Water Project is a shining example of what the partnership between local water agencies like the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County can accomplish. Water instability and unpredictable drought cycles will affect us for years to come, and ensuring water security for our communities requires this type of collaboration between all, as well as a commitment to dedicate funding to support water recycling projects. I am incredibly grateful for the leadership of not only my colleagues in Congress who fought to secure the funding being awarded today, but also for our partnership with the Bureau, which has worked tirelessly in the Biden-Harris administration to fund critical water infrastructure projects. I look forward to our continued efforts to ensure further investments into water recycling, especially the Large-Scale Water Recycling Program, and to get more money out the door.”

“Today’s announcement exemplifies how the Infrastructure Law is delivering for the American people,” said Representative Barragán. “This new program unlocks $450 million of federal funding to help vulnerable communities in my district and other under-resourced areas create drought-resistant water supplies and reduce our state’s dependence on imported water. This investment includes $99 million for Pure Water Southern California, the largest water recycling program in the region. I am proud to support the Pure Water project and other transformative investments made possible by Democrats in Congress and the Biden Administration.”

“Water is essential to everything we do: feeding families, growing crops, powering agricultural businesses, sustaining wildlife and safeguarding Tribal subsistence practices,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “As the climate crisis drives severe drought conditions across the West, it will take all of us working together to safeguard our communities and enhance water reliability. Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have historic new investments that are helping us to build a water supply that will sustain future generations.” 

“These historic investments will add a significant tool to our toolbox to bolster drought resilience in communities across the country,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “The projects being funded from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will diversify our water supplies by taking these currently unusable water sources and turning them into new supplies to help meet growing water needs.”  

“Purified recycled water isn’t just a new supply of water, it is a climate-resilient one. That is precisely what we need as climate change challenges us with increasingly dramatic swings in weather, when every drought seems to be worse than the one before. Having a dependable supply of water, unaffected by the weather, will provide our communities a critical source of reliability,” said Metropolitan Water District Board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr. “We are immensely grateful to our federal partners for their support.”

“Ensuring Southern California has a reliable water supply takes us all working together. And it also benefits the entire state and country, not just the 19 million people who live here. Our businesses and industries are an economic engine for the nation. And we need water to make that engine run,” said Metropolitan Water District General Manager Adel Hagekhalil.

“We are grateful that LADWP was chosen as one of the recipients of this grant, as it will be crucial in helping advance our continued mission to ensure all of our customers have equal access to clean, reliable water,” said LADWP’s CEO & Chief Engineer, Janisse Quiñones. “Securing this grant is a significant milestone and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from our federal, state and local partners. Our shared commitment for a resilient and sustainable water future is unwavering, and today demonstrates that collaborative spirit.”

“Investing in our water future extends beyond infrastructure; it’s an investment in our community’s resilience and prosperity,” said Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder. “This grant funding from the Bureau of Reclamation holds immense value, offering much-needed support for our ratepayers amidst inflation and rising costs. It strengthens our commitment to ensuring a sustainable water supply for all Ventura residents.”

Senator Padilla is a staunch advocate for building drought resilience throughout California. Last week, Padilla celebrated the signing of a long-term drought plan for south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, as well as an $81 million investment to help implement the plan. Padilla previously worked to ensure that the Inflation Reduction Act included $4 billion to help regions across California experiencing severe drought. In 2021, Padilla cosponsored the Large Scale Water Recycling and Drought Resiliency Investment Act to combat drought and protect the water supply of millions of Californians.

Earlier this year, Padilla and Representative Scott Peters (D-Calif.-50) introduced the DROUGHT Act to help alleviate the Western water crisis caused by the long-term drought conditions affecting the Colorado River and its reservoirs. Padilla also announced the Drought Resilient Infrastructure Act to provide new resources and authorities through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to support communities experiencing long-term drought conditions. Several provisions from the bill recently advanced through the Thomas R. Carper Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024.

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