July 13, 2021
Director, WIFIA Program
US EPA William Jefferson Clinton West Building-Room 6210 A
1301 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Inland Action is writing to express our support for WATERSHED CONNECT, a regional infrastructure program comprised of a network of integrated projects designed to achieve water supply reliability, climate resilience, and long-term ecological health of the Upper Santa Ana River (Upper SAR) Watershed. The program is being delivered by a coalition of water agencies with decades of experience collaborating on regional water resource management solutions.
The Upper SAR Watershed is a highly connected system of surface water, groundwater, urban infrastructure, and rich habitat that supports nearly one million people in California’s San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Yet, for many years, the San Bernardino Valley has been challenged by prolonged drought, habitat loss, increased wildfires, and climate uncertainty. In response, water agencies in the Upper SAR Watershed have come together to invest in forward-looking solutions to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio, recharge local groundwater basins, and secure a sustainable water future for the region’s people and environment.
This collaborative approach offers synergistic benefits to the region, including:
Resiliency in the face of climate change: By investing in alternative water supplies, renewable energy, ecosystem health, habitat restoration, and system redundancies, this program protects the region against emerging threats posed by climate change.
Infrastructure Enhancements: Modernization of aging infrastructure and new conveyance systems are planned to reduce climate-related vulnerabilities and ensure reliable services during natural disasters.
Drought Resiliency: The program’s comprehensive collection of stormwater capture, groundwater recharge, and water reuse projects position the region to sustain both short and long-term droughts.
Improved Water Quality: A series of advanced treatment upgrades will improve water quality in the area’s local surface waters and groundwater basins.
Inland Action has long advocated on behalf of sustainable water policies. This multi-agency approach offers significant opportunities to make meaningful improvements in our region.
WATERSHED CONNECT looks beyond traditional boundaries to ensure reliable and equitable water resources for the region. With a focus on sustainability and innovation, the program’s integrated approach meets the needs of the watershed’s economically stressed communities, by responsibly investing ratepayers’ dollars in projects that offer maximum value to the region’s environment and people.
We believe this program aligns closely with EPA’s values and priorities and urge you to consider WATERSHED CONNECT for federal funding through the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program. We strongly support WATERSHED CONNECT’s Letter of Interest and look forward to following the progress of this important regional infrastructure initiative.
Carole Beswick, CEO