The Eastern Municipal Water District will receive $25 million in federal funds over the next several years to expand its desalination program, increasing fresh water stocks and reducing dependence on water imports, the agency announced Tuesday.

The Perris-based EMWD was selected to receive the additional funding under the recently approved federal Water Resources Development Act, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be responsible for distributing the funds.

“EMWD is incredibly appreciative of our federal elected officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their partnership and support of our expanding desalination program,” EMWD Board Vice President Phil Paule said. “This funding is another example of EMWD’s continued commitment to work with our federal partners to bring local taxpayer money back into our service area to support projects that benefit our customers and the region.”

The utility serves a 555-square-mile area, encompassing Hemet, Mead Valley, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Perris, San Jacinto, the Temecula Valley and Winchester.

The district’s current desalination program, which involves extracting brine from groundwater with high salt content, converting it to drinkable aqua, is part of a long-standing effort to lessen dependence on imports from Northern California and elsewhere.

Officials said desalination now produces about 75 gallons of potable water for every 100 gallons pumped. The federal grant will help secure new technology that increases that to 90 gallons per every 100 gallons.

The funds will also pay for construction of new wells, pipelines and related infrastructure, according to the EMWD.

Lawmakers who helped secure the funding included Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Springs, and Mark Takano, D-Riverside, according to the EMWD.

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