The East Valley Water District (EVWD) recently celebrated the groundbreaking of the Sterling Natural Resource Center (SNRC), a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility in Highland, CA, about 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

Costing $150 million, the facility will transform and enhance the region by creating a sustainable source of water for 800,000 area residents by treating up to eight million gallons of water per day. The SNRC recharges the local Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin and creates new opportunities for the surrounding community in the form of education and training, community space, neighborhood improvements, and new habitat for the Santa Ana Sucker fish. The new treatment facility will produce disinfected tertiary recycled water (Title 22 water quality for unrestricted use).

“The Sterling Natural Resource Center is much more than a wastewater treatment facility, it’s an investment in the future of Highland,” said John Mura, EVWD general manager/CEO in a news release. “Beyond bolstering our region’s water independence, the SNRC will be working with local schools to offer hands-on educational opportunities and provide a pathway for students to learn about water and wastewater treatment operations as a potential career option.”

Construction of the project is being led by design-build partners Balfour Beatty (project management), Arcadis U.S., Inc. (design manager/engineer-of-record); Ruhnau Clark Architects (architect); Trussell Technologies (regulatory/permitting); WSP (off-site pipelines/recharge); and Inframark (operations).

The facility is being built using a progressive design-build delivery method, which combines design and construction services into a single point of responsibility. “This efficient process relies on collaboration throughout the project’s timeline to coordinate and optimize design efforts with construction efforts,” says Mura. “Indeed, with this process, construction starts long before design has been finalized and big decisions can be revisited during construction without additional fees.”

Tom Murray, project manager for Balfour Beatty, told me the delivery method allowed him to be open-minded and flexible.

“Design-build allows for efficiencies and cost savings as a result of construction overlapping the design and construction phases, which requires problem-solving in real-time,” says Murray. “Fortunately, Balfour Beatty has extensive experience with both construction of wastewater treatment facilities and with the design-build delivery method process.”

Spanning 14 undeveloped acres, the SNRC site allows the wastewater collection system to convey the flows with gravity rather than requiring installation of a pressurized wastewater pipeline system, says Mura.

The project will lay approximately 37,000 linear-feet of piping and construct 15 structures, including a 12,000-sq-ft community center with a demonstration garden highlighting water-efficient landscaping and incorporating carbon emission-reducing vegetation. Permitting and construction of the SNRC is expected to be completed in less than three years.

East Valley Water District was formed in 1954 and provides water and wastewater collection services to more than 102,000 residents within the City of Highland and portions of both the City and County of San Bernardino.