Big Bear Lake, CA, September 13, 2010, 8:00am – Last Wednesday, September 8th, the Department of Water and Power signed documents officially closing a loan and grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program in the amount of $5,200,000 which consists of $1.6 million in grant money and $3.6 million in the form of a loan at 2.375% interest to be paid back over the next 40 years.  According to DWP General Manager Joel Dickson, the process began over a year ago when the DWP Board of Commissioners directed staff to submit an application with the USDA to request funding for upgrading critical infrastructure.  Dickson states “the funding will be used for drilling, installation and equipping of critical well projects needed to ensure a safe and reliable water supply in the valley for many years to come”.  The well projects include a well on Magnolia Lane in Sugarloaf, a well near Union Bank in Big Bear Lake and two wells in Fawnskin.  The new Magnolia Lane well and the Big Bear Lake well are replacing older wells that have already been taken out of service.  The water supply for Fawnskin is low so the two new wells will provide additional water for that area as well as replacing the one existing well that is 70 years old.  The new funds will also be used for pipeline replacement projects that will improve critical fire flow capabilities throughout the DWP’s system.  According to DWP Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Steve Foulkes, “the funding from the USDA means that these important projects can be completed with minimal impact on rates and charges to DWP’s customers”.  As these projects were anticipated to be necessary for capitol improvements, the expense was included in the last rates that were set by the DWP.  A second application for approximately $9 million was submitted to the USDA for funding more pipeline replacements projects planned for the summer of 2011.  The Department of Water and Power staff is hopeful that they will be awarded these additional funds.