Inland Empire Brine Line

The Inland Empire Brine Line is an integral part in the protection of drinking water resources within the Santa Ana River Watershed. The Watershed covers an area of 77 miles, starting in the San Bernardino Mountains in Big Bear, flowing through Riverside County and the Inland Empire and eventually making its way to Orange County where the river releases into the Pacific Ocean. The Brine Line, was created as a means to properly dispose of “brackish” or salt water waste into the ocean, as opposed to seeping back into the soil or traveling into the Santa Ana River.

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The Brine Line supports businesses by providing a resource for the safe disposal of brackish water discharge. Biotech manufacturing, wastewater treatment plants, power plants, medical supply manufacturing, water purification plants, computer chip manufacturing, commercial laundries, food/beverage processing, large water softeners, large cooling towers and large boilers are all examples of business that require a means to export salty water discharge as mandated by state regulations. Brackish wastewater can be discharged via the Brine Line pipeline, also known as “direct discharged” or via one of four collection sites where it is hauled by truck and disposed of.

“The Brine Line is necessary in order to protect the water supply in the Santa Ana River. By transporting the salt water to the ocean, the water in the River can travel to Orange County and be used for drinking water and recharged into the groundwater basins,” shares Rich Haller, Manager of Engineering and Operations for the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority. “By keeping salt out of the river, we are keeping salt out of the groundwater basin. We are preserving water resources for Orange County.”


The water collected is sent via a pipeline directly to Orange County and released into the ocean. Water let go into the ocean has to be tested to meet environmental regulatory standards prior to being released. Discharging the salty water into the ocean has environmental and drinking water advantages, in addition to regulatory benefits. By reducing the amount of salts that are released into the Santa Ana River, the ecology remains in balance and habitats are preserved. High levels of salts can impair wildlife. The Santa Ana River is a drinking water source for Orange County, by minimizing the amount of salt water that goes into the River, this drinking water source is protected.

Each day, over 11 millions gallons of salty wastewater is discharged into the Brine Line from the Santa Ana River Watershed area. Without the Brine Line, the imbalance from the saltwater discharge would greatly impair drinking water supplies and habitats. Approximately 3.5 million people in the region are impacted by the benefits of the Brine Line. Drinking water protection is the core purpose for the pipeline. With a natural high content of brackish water runoff that enters into the River, the Brine Line serves as a safeguard from preventing additional salt water to enter the watershed.


Over the past years since the Brine Line was first constructed, expansion projects have been made, including a pipeline traveling 13 miles from San Bernardino to Yucaipa. The salt is released into the Brine Line and the remaining water undergoes reverse osmosis treatment and is then released into the Santa Ana River. Moving into the future, the Brine Line will continue to serve as an imperative infrastructure project benefiting several Southern California regions. With a capacity of being able to transport 30 million gallons of water per day, the Brine Line is only be used at 30 percent of its potential. With continued growth and development, the Brine Line may someday be maximized to meet its maximum capacity.

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