The Antelope Valley area’s highly anticipated high desert water bank revealed its first phase conclusion to the public. The groundwater storage project was designed to amplify the area’s water supply and Southern California. 

Project officials are excited about the development and proudly showcased the results of the work conducted so far. The project’s success could immensely benefit the surrounding population, making this an event of relative importance to the local community.

On Monday, October 23, the first stage was completed after three years of construction, according to the water officials on the site. They cited a rapidly changing climate as the reason for the concern regarding the water supply and the project’s initial inception. 

The High Desert Water Bank will enable Metropolitan to store water from the State Water Project in the Antelope Valley groundwater basin. Officials from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California celebrated the reveal. The project’s effect is yet to be seen but is bound to positively influence the area, resulting in a notable turnout and coverage of the event.

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The State Water Project serves multiple purposes for water storage and delivery. According to the California Department of Water Resources, the system extends more than 705 miles. Twenty-seven million Californians benefit from the project that spans 750,000 acres of farmland and businesses throughout CA. 

According to the California Department of Water Resources, the State Water Project is a multi-purpose water storage and delivery system extending over 705 miles to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland and businesses throughout the state. Adán Ortega Jr., MWD board chair, stated, “This investment makes all our communities better prepared for the weather extremes that we increasingly confront,” at the event. “We know that climate change will bring more of the dramatic swings between wet and dry that we saw over the last few years, so we must take every opportunity to store water when it is available… The great news is, we completed this work in time to take advantage of this historically wet year,” he added.

The water bank’s capacity is similar to Castaic Lake’s, almost the size of Lake Perris and four times as large as Big Bear Lake at 280,000 acre-feet. Once developed, the water bank will provide Metropolitan with annual storage and 70,000 acre-feet of water withdrawal. This amount will be able to serve 210,000 homes in Southern California every year. 

The water bank will take water from the East Branch of the State Water Project’s California Aqueduct and move it into recharge basins, which percolate into the underlying aquifer. When water is required, it can be pumped out with recently created wells and transported to Southern California communities throughout the California Aqueduct. 

Matthew Knudson, general manager of the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, stated that the project was designed to attain maximum benefit to communities in the area, adding that “This water will be available during extreme droughts or emergencies when there is limited other water available through the State Water Project.”

Adel Hagekhalil, GM of Metropolitan, stated that the project aims to reduce reliance on the Colorado River because it currently suffers from “structural imbalance and requires significant cutbacks by all river uses.” He advocated for an increase in intentional water conservancy, adding, “Metropolitan is also making big investments to adapt to future stresses on our water supplies.”

A process coined the Climate Adaption Master Plan for Water aims to help identify what further investments are necessary to attain a stable water supply in the face of an increasingly erratic climate.

The collaboration of Metropolitan and Antelope Valley-East Kern transpired in 2019, and the project is set to be completed in 2027.