News Flash


Posted on: October 17, 2018

Wastewater treatment project in Mecca highlights coordination between multiple agencies


Elected officials and area residents gathered today (Wednesday, Oct. 17) for a project spotlight on the St. Anthony’s Sewer Pipeline and Lift Station in Mecca, which will connect St. Anthony’s Trailer Park and Huerta Polanco Park to the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) waste water treatment system.

The St. Anthony’s project is critical to the health and safety of the 136 households in the mobile home park to address the current failing wastewater and water systems. St. Anthony’s currently relies on an outdated septic system with open lagoons that are located adjacent to the residential development. High groundwater levels in the area combined with the current shallow well the community relies on poses a serious health risk to residents if not addressed.

“Thanks to the efforts by multiple agencies, families in this area will be able to use the CVWD wastewater treatment system,” said Director Cástulo R. Estrada of CVWD. “This is a critical project to protect human health and the environment and I applaud the coordination that made it possible.”

CVWD is leading construction of the project that also will allow future communities from up to one mile away to be able to connect to the new lift station and sewer pipeline. The project was made possible with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Water Resources with assistance from Pueblo Unido CDC.

“This historic project will ensure the hundreds of residents in St. Anthony’s no longer have to worry about their outdated septic system failing, safeguarding their health and clean drinking water. Delivering outcomes like this for the 36th district is what drives me and fulfills my mission to improve the lives of the people I serve,” said Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36). “This project took hard work at all levels of government and I am proud to have helped problem solve throughout the process to see it through to completion.”

Ruiz advocated directly to the USDA in support of federal funding for the project and has remained engaged to ensure the funding was sufficient. The federal grants came after Dr. Ruiz brought USDA Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh to tour the affected communities on April 22, 2014, to see firsthand the need for water and sewer infrastructure.

In April of this year, Congressman Ruiz and CVWD announced a USDA Rural Development grant for $610,000 to complete the project. The grant was in addition to an initial $2,540,600 USDA grant Dr. Ruiz secured in September 2014.

“I appreciate the efforts by our agencies, representatives and the disadvantaged communities taskforce, working together to ensure we have the infrastructure necessary to build upon the quality of life for our residents,” said Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.

In 2017, CVWD founded a Disadvantaged Communities Infrastructure Task Force to assist communities in the East Valley in receiving grant funding for important infrastructure projects. The Infrastructure Task Force, which is made up of CVWD, stakeholders and elected officials, has prioritized making improvements at this park and has been working towards funding the project for several years.

“St. Anthony of the Desert has become the embodiment of infrastructure and housing preservation challenges at mobile home parks in the eastern Coachella Valley; yet it is a model of collaboration and partnership evidenced by the work of the Disadvantaged Communities Infrastructure Task Force; which is implementing new viable solutions to respond to these challenges through community outreach and organizing, technical assistance and capital investment,” said Sergio Carranza, Pueblo Unido CDC, executive director.

In addition to serving St. Anthony’s residents, CVWD is investing in a lift station at Lincoln Street and Avenue 64, which will assist in expanding services to other Disadvantaged Communities. Approximately 700 East Valley residents, especially those near Lincoln Street and south of Avenue 66, will see an improvement to their living conditions.

“If California is to bring sustainability to its water resources and meet growing demands, we must work across jurisdictions and balance water supply and demand, it is only by sharing knowledge and working with our partners that we can make resilient and impactful change,” said Vic Nguyen, chief of the Southern Regional Office, California Department of Water Resources. “This approach is not a one-time activity but rather a cultural shift in water management.”

The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

To view photos of the event click here. Additional photo and video files available upon request.

Additional Media Contacts:

Congressman Ruiz: Hernan Quintas – | 202-302-1137

Supervisor Perez: Darin Schemmer – | 760-863-8211

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