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Newly opened Menifee desalination facility will provide water for 15,000 residents

Eastern Municipal Water District
An interior photo of the new Eastern Municipal Water District Parris II desalination facility.

A local water district has opened a new desalination plant that will provide locally sourced water to over 15,000 Inland Empire residents.

Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) opened the "Perris II Desalter" facility last week, which has become the third such facility for the agency.

"This is truly a critical facility for us to be able to continue to serve our customers in a reliable and resilient fashion, especially given that we are facing historic drought conditions," said EMWD general manager Joe Mouawad.

EMWD provides water to nearly one million residents and serves over half a dozen cities, including Moreno Valley, Perris, and Temecula. The new desalination plant will source basin water from Menifee and use reverse osmosis to provide around 5.5 million gallons of water a day.  

"Most people think of (desalination) as ocean (desalination)... this is the exact same technology, except for the fact that we're able to take brackish groundwater, which we have plenty of here in the basin, and turn it into drinkable water," said EMWD board president Phil Paule. Brackish water is the term for water that is saltier than freshwater but less than seawater.

Eastern Municipal Water District
Google Maps
A photo showing the coverage area for the Eastern Municipal Water District, which coverage area includes the cities of Moreno Valley, Perris, San Jacinto, Hemet, Menifee, Murrieta, and Temecula.

"Our goal here at Eastern is to import less and less water. It takes a lot of energy to move water from both Northern California and the Colorado River," Paule said. "We will always use those water sources, but the less that we have to is better for our customers (and) better for the environment."

Currently, EMWD sources about 50% of its water from the Colorado River. Additional to this project, the water district has several other water sourcing projects, including the construction of several water wells near March Air Reserve Base.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.