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EMWD’s Honored With WateReuse Award for Excellence

By Alex Turner
Community Writer
03/22/2023 at 03:23 PM

Yesterday, Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) was honored by the national WateReuse Association with its Award for Excellence for its innovative recycled water retrofit and landscape transformation at The Lakes at Hemet West community.

EMWD received the award at the WateReuse Symposium in Atlanta. The awards recognize individuals and projects that have made significant contributions in support of greater adoption of recycled water usage.

The WateReuse Association is a national organization advancing laws, policy, funding, and public acceptance of recycled water.

EMWD has previously been recognized by WateReuse for its Transformational Innovation Award (2022), the Community Water Champion Award (2019), and the Large Project of the Year Award (2012). EMWD is widely viewed as an industry leader for its recycled water efforts and has a strategic priority of using 100 percent of its recycled water supply each year for beneficial reuse.

For The Lakes at Hemet West retrofit, park management had sought to bring recycled water to the community and its nine-hole golf course for more than a decade, but faced significant challenges, such as an outdated irrigation system, regulatory issues, and the need to bring a recycled water line across a state highway.

EMWD and The Lakes worked hand in hand to develop a plan and design that enhanced golf playability, minimized non-functional turf, and incorporated state of the art irrigation system components and management.

The community used approximately 250 acre feet of potable water per year prior to the retrofit. But inefficiencies with the irrigation system, existing landscape choices, and a torn liner in a decorative lake caused significant opportunities to reduce the overall demand. After the completion of the project, including the removal of more than 360,000 square feet of nonfunctional turf, the community is anticipated to use 70 acre feet of potable water and 110 acre feet of recycled water annually.

In conjunction with the on-site retrofit, EMWD advanced a Capital Improvement Project to extend an existing recycled water line approximately 250 feet to bring service to the golf course. While the distance of the pipeline extension was minimal, it required more than a year of permitting with CalTRANS because the pipeline had to cross Highway 74 — a state highway that serves as the major arterial road through the City of Hemet.

As part of its Accelerated Retrofit Program, EMWD takes the lead on design and permitting of projects and provides a funding option for customers that is paid back through a specialized rate structure. EMWD has completed more than 50 recycled water retrofits.

“EMWD is appreciative of the WateReuse Association recognizing the work that helped transform this community and help them use water efficiently and responsibly,” EMWD Board President Phil Paule said. “This retrofit was incredibly complex, but was equally as rewarding to see the water use transformations that can take place with creative thinking and committed partners involved in the process.

“The end result was a new and sustainable landscape palette, reduced costs for the customer, and a community that has showed its commitment to using the right water for the right use.”