Skip to main content
Eastern Municipal Water District Home

What We Do

A History of the Wetlands Research Facility

The wetlands and Wetlands Research Facility are the result of a cooperative agreement between the US Bureau of Reclamation and EMWD. The wetlands agreement was executed in 1990 and provided a $7M grant in addition to a Small Reclamation Project Act loan under PL-984. 


Construction of the wetlands began in 1991 with two half-acre nursery cells. Construction of eight research cells followed and was completed in 1992. The present large, demonstration wetland was built in 1994. Initial research was conducted from 1994 through 1997. As a result, it was determined that the research cells and large wetlands should be reconfigured, both as a vegetation management procedure to increase open water areas and to improve water treatment and habitat values. 

The research cells and the demonstration wetlands were burned and subsequently reconfigured in 1997 and 1998, respectively. The facilities have been used for ongoing research since their construction and the burning and reconfiguration were part of that research. Additionally, school tours, education programs, and limited use by public groups continues to increase. The wetlands has been used as a model by other areas for subsequent development of wetlands. 

The wetlands has fulfilled its multipurpose promise. It is now an integral part of the treatment plant, water quality improvement occurs, and nearly 120 species of migratory and resident waterfowl, shorebirds, neotropical song birds, and raptors utilize the site. The education program has been enthusiastically received. Information on the project has been published nationally and internationally, and visitors from over 30 countries and six native American groups have visited the site for professional evaluation and assessment of how they might apply this “low tech” approach to their wastewater treatment needs. 

Wetlands History and Timeline 

  • 1990 – PL-984 Small Reclamation Project Act Loan and $7M Grant 
  • 1991 – Construction of Nursery Cells 
  • 1992 – Completed Construction of Eight Research Cells 
  • 1992 – California Local Government Commission Award for Innovation in Water Conservation, Reclamation, and Management 
  • 1993 – Inland Empire West Resource Conservation District Conservation Partnership Award, Water Quality 
  • 1994 – Construction of Large Wetlands 
  • 1994 – Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Theodore Roosevelt Environmental Award for Excellence in Natural Resources 
  • 1994 – Association of Municipal Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) Research and Technology Award 
  • 1994 – 1997 Ongoing Research 
  • 1997 – Burned and reconfigured research cells 
  • 1997 to Present – Continuing Research 
  • 1998 – Established 1,200-square foot Education Building at the Wetlands 
  • 1998 – Burned and Reconfigured Large Wetlands 
  • 2000 – 4th Annual EMWD Wetlands Research Meeting 
  • 2001 – Clair A. Hill Award for Excellence by Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) 
  • 2002 – Burned and modified large wetlands