Agencies form Groundwater Sustainability Task Force for long-term management as they brace for 19th year of drought.
SAN BERNARDINO, June 15, 2016 — One year after Gov. Brown ordered Inland Empire water agencies to impose mandatory cutbacks of 24 to 36 percent, the state has changed its approach and is is allowing suppliers to set their own water conservation targets.
The documentation that local agencies have to submit to the State Water Resources Control Board by June 22 must prove that their conservation approach will ensures they have enough water to meet customers’ needs for the next three years, assuming severe drought conditions like those of 2013 to 2015.
Based on a re! view of their supplies and demands, local water agencies have lowered adjusted their conservation targets from those set by the state accordingly.
Bob Tincher, manager of water resources for San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, is not surprised by the results.
“The state’s previous targets were developed without considering the supplies available to an agency. The reduction inlowering of mandatory conservation targets locally is really a reflection of the huge investments made by the Inland Empire water agencies on water supply projects,”, said Tincher.
Retail water agencies served byand San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, their wholesaler, are looking beyond the current drought. They have taken the next step in a long history of groundwater management by setting up a Groundwater Sustainability Task Force and are working collaboratively to manage groundwater basins throughout western San Bernardino County.
“It’s in everyone’s ! interest to ensure the health of our local groundwater basins. But to do this effectively, we want to do more than fill out a form for the state. We want to be sure that our basins have water even if the next three years, or beyond, continue to be dry,” said Tincher.
Representatives from about a dozen water agencies are regularly meeting to discuss their customer demands, groundwater pumping needs and plans to purchase additional available imports from the State Water Project , one of the huge supply investments made by residents in the Valley District service areaimports from Valley District.
Based on rainfall in northern California earlier this year, Valley District can import about 61,000 acre-feet of water this year, nearly about three times what was available last year.
“This is important,” Tincher said, “because to meet demands during droughts such as this one, we need to utilize our imported water supplies whenever it is they are available.”
So far th! is year, tThe retail agencies within Valley District have made arrangements to purchase and import 55,000 acre-feetall of the available of supplies from the State Water Project. Another 15,000 acre-feet of water is available.
Tincher anticipates that local agencies will purchase the remaining water within the next couple of weeks.
While news organizations have frequently reported on the current statewide drought, which is now entering its sixth year, the local area has been in a drought cycle for 18 years, Tincher said.
“The current drought is about twice as bad as the 20-year drought that began around 1945 and led to the 1969 adjudication of local groundwater basins,” he said.