A dedication ceremony on August 16 for Fontana Water Company’s (FWC) new groundwater treatment plant that included enthusiastic support from local, state and federal officials celebrated a years-long effort to restore a water source for Fontana residents and businesses that had been unavailable due to groundwater contamination.
Designed to remove perchlorate from local groundwater, the treatment plant will restore approximately 4 million gallons of drinking water per day that were originally lost when a contaminated well was shut down in 2010. Perchlorate is an ingredient in rocket fuel that has contaminated several water wells in the cities of Fontana, Rialto and Colton during the past several years forcing the closure of 13 of FWC’s 34 drinking water wells. Much of the perchlorate in the area originated from military and defense operations during and after World War II.
The treatment plant comprises a well capable of pumping 2,800 gallons per minute, two 500,000-gallon reservoirs, a booster station, chlorination equipment and a well discharge pit. The reservoirs will improve water flow for public firefighting and give FWC the flexibility to produce and store water when electric rates are low, which will reduce costs to consumers.
Funded in large part by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, the plant is connected to FWC’s SCADA computerized operating system, which allows a single operator to monitor and remotely control the entire water system at all times.
FWC championed the treatment plant in conjunction with the city of Fontana and state and federal policymakers. At the dedication ceremony, FWC’s General Manager Robert Young noted, “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. In particular, I want to thank all of those elected officials who have supported our efforts along the way in Washington D.C., Sacramento and right here in Fontana.”
Further acknowledging the collective effort, Fontana’s Mayor Acquanetta Warren said, “The importance of water is amply demonstrated by the fact that all levels of government are united behind the goal of restoring our groundwater.”
U.S. Representative Gloria Negrete McLeod agreed, “This new perchlorate [removal] treatment facility in Fontana is a great example of how local needs and federal resources can be matched to solve problems.”
FWC still has 10 wells out of service, and perchlorate continues to threaten additional wells. According to State Senator Norma Torres, “I am grateful for this new perchlorate [removal] treatment plant, as it will help provide a clean reliable water supply to the residents of Fontana. 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.”
Assemblymember Cheryl Brown concluded, “The new perchlorate [removal] 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.”