A Wine County sewer project that Supervisor Jeff Stone has advocated moved closer to reality today as local officials work to safeguard groundwater in the southwest county while allowing winery expansions that are expected to create thousands of jobs and reduce unemployment.
“Our residents need jobs but they also need clean water,” Stone said. “Business and government have come together to develop a solution that provides both, and that will help create a destination for visitors from all over the world.”
Eastern Municipal Water District’s (EMWD) board of directors on Wednesday unanimously approved the project, which will add nearly 10 miles of sewer lines throughout Wine Country east of Temecula. Work is expected to begin in early 2014 and last 500 days. The state-of-the-art sewer system will connect vintners to EMWD’s network of sewer lines.
Adding the sewer line in Wine Country would protect groundwater quality in the region because it eliminates wineries’ need for septic systems, which can pollute groundwater if they fail. Many new projects in the Wine County region likely could not be built without the sewer because of the potential for septic system failures.
Construction work on the project’s pipeline installation will force intermittent lane closures along Rancho California Road, east of Butterfield Stage Road. Signs and detours will be posted before any lanes are closed. Project costs will be covered through EMWD’s Sewer System Expansion Fund, which will be repaid through contributions from the County of Riverside and the creation of a special benefit district that includes property owners who have signed agreements to participate in the project. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has pledged $2 million initially to help fund the project.
A second phase that would extend the sewer line east is anticipated in the future. The total cost, including all phases and facilities, is estimated at $28.8 million and Riverside County has pledged $5 million total toward all phases phase.
Stone touted the benefits of economic development in Wine Country, where winery, restaurant and hotel projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars already have been proposed.
“Without this project, we would effectively create a moratorium that strangles Wine Country’s development,” Stone said. “Wine Country is too important for us to let that happen.”
EMWD Board President Philip E. Paule said the district was honored to partner with Riverside County on the project.
“As the Wine Country region continues to grow, it is important that all of our agencies continue to work together to serve the needs of this region,” he said. “This project could not have been possible without the leadership of Supervisor Stone, who has worked diligently to ensure that this project moves forward for the benefit of all involved.”
For more information, contact the supervisor’s office at (951) 955-1030.