On behalf of the San Bernardino Basin area Groundwater Council, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD) announced that the West Valley Water District (WVWD) will join the basin area council.

The San Bernardino Valley has experienced historically low rainfall over the past 20 years, resulting in ongoing and sustained drought. This has resulted in groundwater storage levels in the San Bernardino Basin being at a historic low. Due to our tendency to long periods of drought, ensuring water supply reliability and long-term groundwater sustainability is even more important in this region.

Valley District provides supplemental water to the region, which includes 15 water retailers, cities and municipal water districts across its 325 square mile service area. A large component of what Valley District does each day is ensuring the groundwater basins are well managed. This happens through careful tracking of available supplies to meet ongoing demand. Since the region does not get enough rainfall, we must rely on our significant investment in water imported from Northern California along with developing new supplies like stormwater capture and recycled water.

Recognizing the significant value of groundwater basins for water storage, the California Legislature enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA). While adjudicated basins (those that already have a management plan) such as the San Bernardino Basin are generally exempt from SGMA, the region continues to work together toward the sustainable management of the basin.

The region formed the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council to equitably share in the cost to responsibly manage the basin and ensure water sustainability for the future. The council has 12 partners, with West Valley Water District joining in May 2020 as a partner in the west end of the basin.

“We can’t wait for another emergency to protect ratepayers from the environmental disasters associated with drought. We have to do our part in the regional effort to maintain storage levels. We’ve all heard that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and today’s announcement is putting those words into action,” commented WVWD Board of Directors President Channing Hawkins.

WVWD is a retail water provider who serves nearly 100,000 people throughout portions of the city of Rialto, Colton and Fontana. WVWD has a diverse water supply, receiving water from local groundwater basins, surface water from Lytle Creek, and imported water via the State Water Project, from San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District.

“The groundwater basin is a shared resource with a shared responsibility. All of the users should assist with managing the basin and the associated costs,” commented Dr. June Hayes, director for SBVMWD. “We are so pleased that West Valley has committed to being a part of the solution to managing the groundwater basins in our region.”

Basin management costs are proportioned based on each agency’s individual gap between its available supplies and its demand. This method gives agencies an incentive to reduce their demand by conserving water. The method also recognizes an agency’s prior investment in other supplies like surface water and recycled water while at the same time recognizing the need to purchase supplemental water not just for today but for tomorrow.

“Signing the Groundwater Council Agreement by West Valley represents a commitment to collaboratively develop funding to purchase and store supplemental water supplies,” stated SBVMWD Board President T. Milford Harrison. “Working together to manage the basin as a region, rather than as individual agencies, has the potential to foster great success in providing a reliable water supply for all residents and businesses throughout the region long into the future.”

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