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$2.65 million purchase of 14 acres to create Sterling Natural Resource Center

The 14-acre water-generating project includes a high-tech wastewater treatment facility, community space, demonstration garden and educational resources for area students; project to generate 2,200 local jobs

Highland, Calif.The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) and East Valley Water District (EVWD) today announced the $2.65 million purchase of 14 acres of land that will serve as the location of the Sterling Natural Resource Center (Center) – a wastewater treatment plant and community center that will contribute up to 10 million gallons of purified water daily to groundwater storage.

[ecko_quote source=”Economist John Husing”]“As water restrictions and drought continue to plague California, projects like the Sterling Natural Resource Center will be of vital importance to the future of the Inland Empire,”[/ecko_quote]

The property is located on the west side of North Del Rosa Drive between East 5th and East 6th Streets in Highland. Total costs for the project are estimated at $128 million.

“We are excited to bring this project to fruition,” said Mark Bulot, president of the Valley District Board of Directors. “Water reclamation and groundwater recharge fit with our mission as a regional agency to plan for a long-range water supply for the San Bernardino Valley, and we are happy to be able to add enhancements to the project that will also benefit the surrounding community.”

The Sterling Natural Resource Center will treat up to 10 million gallons of wastewater daily and recharge it into the local Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, where hundreds of millions of gallons of water will be stored for use in dry years. The Center will use the most advanced and safest technology including Membrane Bioreactors to produce disinfected water that meets or exceeds all requirements for groundwater recharge and positively enhances the community. Eliminating odors and other negative attributes associated with treatment plants of the past has been achieved through advancements in technology and design techniques. The project will treat wastewater generated solely within the East Valley Water District service area.

“Our district currently sends its wastewater to the City of San Bernardino, where it is treated and sent down the Santa Ana River,” said Ron Coats EVWD Chairman of the Board. “It pains us to see such a precious resource flow out of our region, when it could be put to good use right here in our community. That’s why we are working in cooperation with Valley District to establish the Sterling Natural Resource Center.”

About the Project

The Center will generate 800 construction jobs, support 1,400 new, permanent positions, and contribute to the Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan, a multi-agency project that protects threatened plant and animal species and creates new habitat to assist in their vitality.

“As water restrictions and drought continue to plague California, projects like the Sterling Natural Resource Center will be of vital importance to the future of the Inland Empire,” said economist John Husing. “Not only do projects like these create jobs, they provide reliable and affordable supplies of water that contribute to the overall economic health of the region.”

In addition to the Center’s many water-related benefits, it also creates a sense of place for the community with a public area that will include open space and water features, multi-purpose community space, and an interpretive center.

Indian Springs High School, located adjacent to the community related facility, is working with the water districts to develop educational opportunities for students to have hands-on experiences with wastewater treatment and to gain a better understanding of the science involved in the purification process.

The project will be funded through a combination of grants, low-interest state loans, impact fees assessed on new development within the facility’s service area, and current and future ratepayers. It is anticipated that sewer fees will remain the same or possibly even decrease with the new facility.

The Sterling Natural Resource Center was named after A.E. Sterling, a local pioneer whose vision helped to shape much of the region in the late 1800 and early 1900s. Sterling was a longtime resident and property owner who helped in the establishment of multiple water agencies, designed the Redlands Country Club Golf Course and was a founding member of the Highland Chamber of Commerce.

About San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District
San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) was formed in 1954 to import supplemental water. As a regional water provider they bring water into its service area through participation in the State Water Project (SWP) and manage groundwater storage within its boundaries. Valley District covers 353 square miles in southwestern San Bernardino County and serves a population of approximately 770,000. The District boundary spans the eastern two-thirds of the San Bernardino Valley, and the cities of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda, Redlands, Rialto, Bloomington, Highland, Mentone, Grand Terrace, and Yucaipa.

About East Valley Water District
East Valley Water District was formed in 1954 and provides water and wastewater services to 101,733 residents within the City of Highland and portions of both the City and County of San Bernardino. EVWD operates under the direction of a five-member elected Board. More information is available at

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