Inland Empire Cities, Water Districts Join Forces for Water Reliability

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Area water districts and departments throughout the Inland Empire are taking a historic step toward water management through collaboration – working together to ensure the sustainability of the region’s underground water supplies.

More than a dozen cities and water districts are voting this month or next to participate in the Groundwater Council, a 21st century model for cooperation that will have everyone pitching in to achieve optimum levels of water storage in the San Bernardino and Bunker Hill groundwater basins.

Participation in the council is open to all groundwater producers in the San Bernardino Basin Area. East Valley Water District approved its participation in the council on Wednesday. Other prospective members include: the cities of Colton, Redlands, Loma Linda and Rialto; Riverside Public Utilities, San Bernardino Municipal Water Department, Riverside Highland Water Company, Fontana Water Company, West Valley Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District, Western Municipal Water District and Yucaipa Valley Water District.

Participating agencies will contribute water and/or funding (to purchase imported water) to restore and maintain the groundwater basin at optimum levels.

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“Cooperation is needed to get through our region’s persistent drought conditions, which are exacerbated by the challenging climatic times we are going through,” said Doug Headrick, general manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. “Our water basins serve the entire region and allow us to store our imported water supplies that allow the region to continue to grow. We are united in our desire to ensure safe and reliable water sources for our population now and long into the future.”

The primary benefits of the Groundwater Council are:

  • It significantly improves the region’s water supply

  • It provides a greater reliability on water availability

  • High water quality in the basin is maintained with additional low-salinity imported water

  • It represents a collaborative and equitable approach that leverages efficiencies among water agencies

The region set a new record for the amount of imported water that was recharged in the 2016-17 water year. More than 16 billion gallons of water went into underground storage, reflecting 94 percent of the total water demand for residents of San Bernardino, Redlands and Highland, said Daniel Cozad, general manager of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District.

“The Groundwater Council enables us to continue proactive basin management toward achieving the ideal storage and water levels in the basin,” Cozad explained. “Storing water in wet years will provide all pumpers with a reliable source of water during droughts and help prevent the region from purchasing water on the ‘spot market’ at much higher prices.”

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