Legally recycling wastewater is now in Idyllwild’s future. At the May 20 meeting, Idyllwild Water District General Manager Tom Lynch announced that the State Water Resources Control Board is awarding the district slightly more than $2 million to construct a tertiary water treatment facility.

Of the total $2,045,217 financing package, one-sixth ($306,687) is a direct grant. One-third ($715,921) will be a low-interest, long-term loan and the balance, half of the financing, is designated a principal forgiveness.

“Upon completion of the project, if [IWD] has met the terms and conditions of the agreement, we will forgive a portion of the loan,” said Dan Newton of the SWRCB’s Water Recycling Funding Program. “This is one of the best agreements we’ve made. It’s thrilling.”

The treatment facilities are additions to the district’s current wastewater facility. And, nearly 10,000 feet of new pipeline will be installed to move the water back through the Tollgate area and to the county and state park areas for irrigation use where a new 50,000-gallon storage tank will be constructed.

“The project includes the installation and operation of a tertiary (being or relating to the purification of wastewater by removal of fine particles, nitrates and phosphates) treatment system that complies with Title 22 standards for recycled water, installation and operation of a pump station and pipelines for water conveyance, and installation and operation of a recycled water storage tank,” Lynch said. Then added, “Those that use this water for landscape irrigation will see reduced costs for water.”

Wastewater will go through several filtration steps. “The solids will be discharged with the waste activated sludge to the existing solids treatment facility,” Lynch stressed. “[Additional] disinfection of the recycled water will be accomplished with ultraviolet light.”

“Tertiary treatment is good thing. Idyllwild is a very environmentally oriented community,” said Director John Cook. “To the extent this offsets the use of potable water use, it’s to our advantage.”

Construction could begin next spring, Lynch said. And Newton confirmed, “The SWRCB is ready to distribute the funds [once paperwork is completed]. We can disburse soft costs immediately.”

“The agreement with the state will allow us an ability to recoup costs expended to date for preparing various special studies and preliminary design costs,” Lynch told the board.

IWD is still awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about several other grant requests to help with other infrastructure projects, according to Lynch. He also announced that replacing the effluent lines at the wastewater facility began last month.

In water business, IWD remains in Stage 2 Water Emergency. “Good storms have come though and helped our water levels [at] downtown [wells] and at Foster Lake,” Lynch said. “The recent storms really helped us.”

Through April, IWD has produced 23.8 million gallons of water compared to 23.2 million in 2014, a 2.5 percent increase. For the same period in 2013, its production was 27.3 million gallons.

Although water sales for April were below original estimates, the water program still had a net income of $16,000.

During the meeting, the board also held a public hearing on the proposed stand-by rates of $30 per acre for vacant lots in the water or sewer district. There is no change in the rate and nobody testified in opposition of the rate, which the board unanimously approved.

A proposed 2015-16 budget was not on the agenda and Lynch requested that the Finance Committee meet to review and discuss it prior to the June meeting.

“The board will likely adopt it at that June 17 meeting unless special meetings are called,” Lynch replied to a question about the budget adoption by June 30.