News & Issues
Fontana Water Company Uses Innovative Small Hydropower Project to Hold Down Water Costs, Create Renewable Electricity and Help Meet Climate Change Goals
Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod and State Assembly member Cheryl Brown Help Cut Ribbon on First-of-its-Kind Project
(FONTANA, CA) - Lawmakers and water company officials cut the ribbon on an innovative hydroelectric generation project that creates enough electricity to power a local water treatment plant and provide excess power back to the local utility grid, Fontana Water Company announced today.
Known as "in-conduit" hydroelectric generation, the project takes advantage of existing water flow through Fontana Water Company's Sandhill Surface Water Treatment Plant in Rialto to produce electricity without burning fossil fuels making it a renewable and sustainable source of power. The plant is the first one of its kind operating in Southern California.
"This project is a win-win-win," said Robert K. Young, General Manager of Fontana Water Company. "Electricity is one of our biggest expenses so this will help keep those costs down, which in turn will help hold down the cost of water to our customers. By taking advantage of state and federal grants, this is a very cost effective project for us."
Young also emphasized that the electricity produced by the in-line turbines will be "green energy" because they produce zero emissions from the generation of electricity. Electric utilities like Southern California Edison are required by state law to generate more electricity from non-polluting sources like hydro, so the new facility helps meet the state's climate change goals.
Joining the ribbon cutting ceremony were U.S. Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Montclair), who represents this area in Congress, and California Assembly member Cheryl Brown, (D-San Bernardino) who represents Fontana in the state legislature, and Fontana City Councilman Jesse Sandoval.
"Fontana Water Company's small hydro project bordering the communities of Fontana and Rialto is going to make a big difference in the Inland Empire," said US Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod. "For a small federal investment of less than half a million dollars, we've put people to work at good paying construction jobs, made the water system more reliable and helped control future costs. This one small facility will generate enough electricity to run the entire plant and it will sell power back to Edison. Everyone will benefit from the use of this technology."
State policy also encourages diversification of our electric generation infrastructure by providing significant funding for small projects distributed around California. Other state policies require the addition of renewable power and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
"This power plant is exactly what the state has been trying to encourage with policies on climate change, renewable portfolio standards and distributed generation," said Assembly member Cheryl Brown, who represents the area. "The Self Generation Incentive Program was created more than a decade ago to stimulate the development of many small-scale generation systems using a wide variety of technologies. I'm so pleased that this plant, the first of its kind in Southern California, became a reality, in part, because of this program."
The "in-conduit" system used by Fontana Water Company takes advantage of the difference in water pressure when the water first enters the plant, which can be 140 psi, and the water pressure needed to safely operate the plant, which is about 10 psi. That difference represents energy that is now being converted to electricity.
The Sandhill Hydroelectric Station is comprised one 95 kW turbine and a second 215 kW turbine. Most of the time, the turbines will provide nearly all the power needed to serve on-site power needs at the Sandhill Plant, and during high flows they will be able to export excess electricity to the power grid. Once the project is approved by the CPUC, electric savings will flow directly to water customers. All of the savings in electricity costs are passed through to Fontana Water Company's customers.
Additionally, the Project's environmental benefits are equivalent to supplying energy to 194 homes, cutting CO2 emissions by 950 tons and offsetting carbon emissions from 294 vehicles.
The cost of the project is approximately $1.7 million dollars and Fontana has secured two grants for the project, one from the federal government in the amount of $498,000 and a second from the State of California in the amount of $337,500 for a total of approximately $835,500.
Construction of the Sandhill Hydroelectric Station began around May of 2013 and completed in November. The plant has been tested and is now in service.
"This highly efficient, clean, renewable power plant represents an important milestone for the water company, our customers, and for the state of California," said water company CEO Michael Whitehead. "We all need to make wise and efficient use of our natural resources. Using our available drinking water supplies to also generate clean, renewable energy helps us achieve these important goals."
Fontana Water Company Responds to Governor Brown's Declaration of a Statewide Drought
There is no doubt that California is in the middle of another drought, so we welcome the Governor’s declaration and his call for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water use as a way to focus everyone’s attention on what we can do today to make sure we have water in the future. Fontana Water Company has been providing water service to the residents and businesses in our service areas for more than half a century. Most of the water we serve comes from underground aquifers that are replenished by rain and stormwater that flows from the nearby San Gabriel Mountains together with surface water flows in Lytle Creek. However, the lack of rainfall has reduced the amount of water in those aquifers and in Lytle Creek.
We urge our customers to continue to conserve and find ways to voluntarily reduce their water use. Tips on how to reduce water use can be found on our website's conservation page at:
We will keep our customers informed about the status of the water supply whenever there are new developments, so keep an eye on your water bills and our website.
Thank you all for helping us work our way through these dry times.
Fontana Water Company's New Perchlorate Treatment Plant Will Restore Nearly 4 Million Gallons of Drinking Water Daily(FONTANA, CA) - A new water treatment plant designed to remove perchlorate contamination from local groundwater will restore about 4 million gallons of drinking water per day, a big boost to the Fontana Water Company's local supplies, according to company officials. Federal funding is paying a large part of the cost of the new plant, which is restoring the capacity of a well that was shut down in 2010 because of perchlorate.
Fontana Water Company executives were joined at the dedication ceremony today by US Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod, State Senator Norma Torres, California Assembly member Cheryl Brown and Mayor of the City of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren.
"Fontana Water Company has been hard at work for more than a decade in an effort to protect and restore this priceless renewable resource, so it is very gratifying that today we can show some of the tangible results of all that hard work," said Robert K. Young, General Manager of Fontana Water Company. "In particular I want to thank all of those elected officials who have supported our efforts along the way, in Washington DC, Sacramento and right here in Fontana."
The new treatment system, which is designated as Plant F23, will be going into service in just a few days once the testing process is complete. The plant is comprised of Well F23A, which can pump 2,800 gallons per minute, two pair of ion exchange vessels with pre-filters, one granular activated carbon vessel, two 500,000 gallon reservoirs, a booster station and a well discharge pit.
"It is critical that the city and the water company work together to solve the perchlorate problem because nothing is more vital to the economic health of our community than having a safe and reliable source of water," said Acquanetta Warren, Mayor of the City of Fontana. "The importance of water is amply demonstrated by the fact that all levels of government are united behind the goal of restoring our groundwater."
Perchlorate contamination began to reach critical levels in the area in the late 1990s and has forced the closure of 13 of Fontana Water Company's 34 drinking water wells and the loss of approximately 32 million gallons per day of drinking water.
Much of the perchlorate in the area was the result of military and defense operations during and after World War II. Over the years, perchlorate was washed from the soil into the groundwater by rain and various human activities in the area of the Mid Valley Landfill.
Funding for the plant comes in large part from the U.S. Department of Defense through its Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.
"This new perchlorate treatment facility in Fontana is a great example of how local needs and federal resources can be matched to solve problems," said U.S. Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod. "I am committed to working with the water company, the City of Fontana, and all other cities across California's 35th Congressional district to ensure the Inland Empire's water supply is safe for the community."
While the addition of Plant F23 is significant, Fontana Water Company still has 10 wells out of service, and perchlorate continues to threaten additional wells, according to the preliminary results of two federally funded studies.
"I am grateful for this new perchlorate treatment plant as it will help provide a clean reliable water supply to the residents of Fontana," said State Senator Norma Torres. "However, there is still more work that needs to be done to address perchlorate contamination issues. In the months and years ahead I plan on using the full extent of my legislative authority to find solutions to this serious problem."
Fontana Water Company gets most of its water from local groundwater supplies in the Chino Basin, as well as a significant amount from Rialto/Colton and Lytle Creek. The company also has connections to the State Water Project, which delivers water from Northern California. However, climate change and population growth in the Southwest are making imported water a more expensive and less reliable supply for the future. The region's best hope of maintaining adequate water supply is by restoration and careful stewardship of local groundwater.
"The new perchlorate treatment facility in Fontana is a very important addition to the region's future water security, and it dovetails perfectly with what we're trying to accomplish in Sacramento for statewide water policy. In order for California to become less dependent on imported water from the Sierras or the Colorado River, it is vital that we protect and restore local renewable water resources," said Assembly member Cheryl R. Brown.
The water treatment plant includes two reservoirs with a total of one million gallons of storage capacity. The two reservoirs allow Fontana Water Company to continue service with one when the other is off line for maintenance or other reasons. The added storage will aid water flow for public firefighting purposes and gives the company flexibility to store water when electric rates are low, which will reduce cost to consumers.
The booster station is required to distribute water to customers throughout the Fontana system. The boosters are capable of pumping 7,250 gallons per minute. The site also includes chlorination equipment for the purposes of disinfection.
The plant is connected to Fontana Water Company's modern SCADA computerized operating system, which allows a single operator to monitor and remotely control the entire water system at all times.
Good News for Ratepayers
1. Starting in November, your water bill will include a reduction in water rates because on November 9, 2012 Fontana Water Company petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to lower customer water rates by about 16%.
This rate decrease was made possible because:
- Fontana Water Company was able to divert and treat far more than average quantities of low-cost Lytle Creek surface water through its upgraded Sandhill Surface Water Treatment Plant.
- Fontana Water Company was able to make an all cash, spot purchase of 20,000 acre-feet of water for Chino Basin groundwater replenishment available on a one-time basis at a deep discount to the prevailing rates of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
- Fontana Water Company was able to enter into favorable water leases from nearby cities that had temporary surpluses.
The rate decrease became effective on November 9 and these lower water costs are in your current bill.
2. Working with the City of Fontana, Fontana Water Company received CPUC approval to build a recycled water system. We recently broke ground on this facility and when it is complete, it will be able to deliver up to 1,700 acre-feet of treated recycled water per year to irrigate parks and landscaping instead of using precious drinking water supplies. Fontana Water Company customers will benefit from substantial cost savings because using recycled water reduces the need to purchase higher cost drinking water supplies.
3. We are continuing to work with the leadership of the City of Fontana to find ways to ensure a reliable, long-term supply of water for our community as well as stabilize and, whenever possible, lower the rates for all Fontana Water Company customers.
Fontana Water Company is offering Water Wise Gardening Classes to inform its customers how to use water more efficiently in landscapes, yet still keep their yards looking beautiful and healthy. Please see Gardening Workshop flyer for more details.
Our offices will be closed:
Monday, January 20th - MLK Day
Monday, February 17th - President's Day
Monday, May 26th - Memorial Day
Friday, July 4th - Independence Day
Monday, September 1st - Labor Day
Monday, October 13th - Columbus Day
Tuesday, November 11th - Veterans Day
Thursday & Friday - November 27th & 28th - Thanksgiving Holiday
At 12:00 noon Tuesday, December 23rd - Awards Luncheon
Wednesday & Thursday, December 24th & 25th - Christmas Holiday
In case of an emergency call (909) 428 - 8746
The Cost of Capital Proposed Rate Increase
City of Fontana, Fontana Water Company Officials Team Up to Seek Federal Support to Solve Groundwater Contamination in Fontana
Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren joined officials from Fontana Water Company in Washington, D.C., to seek more federal support in dealing with the massive perchlorate contamination of local underground water supplies in Fontana.
See News Release and Photo
2010 Update of the Urban Water Management Plan
In conformance with the California Urban Water Management Planning Act, Fontana Water Company ("Company") held a public hearing for adoption of its 2010 update of the Urban Water Management Plan ("Plan") at 2:00 p.m., June 29, 2010, in the Company's Office located at 15966 Arrow Route, Fontana, California. The Company's Board of Directors adopted the Plan on July 5, 2011, as of July 1, 2011.
The Plan may be viewed online here.
Come discover how easy it is to design a beautiful landscape that uses less water and resources. Fontana Water Company is providing two new FREE Gardening Classes - Garden Design Concepts and Drought Tolerant Plants. Fontana Water Company is offering the gardening workshops Free to its customers. Please register space is limited. Please Call (909) 822-2201 to register for this event.
California Public Utilities Commission
2010 Water Action Plan
Fontana Water Company supports the Public Utilities Commission's Water Action Plan. This document outlines ways to maintain water quality, strengthen water conservation efforts, assist low-income customers, and set rates that balance investment, conservation, and affordability.
Conservation Rebate Information:
Please visit bewaterwise.com for rebate information on water saving devices.
Fontana Water Company is offering free gardening workshops, see Gardening Workshop flyer for details
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Saving water helps everyone. Find out how you can save water in and around your home and business.
Water News Summer 2009
Noticias Sobre El Agua Verano 2009
The California Public Utilities Commission directed San Gabriel Valley Water Company, and other Commission regulated water utilities, to implement tiered water conservation rates for its residential customer, effective July 1, 2010.