Only once in the history of California has a statewide drought been declared.
That was 2015, when there was virtually no snowpack in the mountains and all the water stored in reservoirs throughout the state was insufficient to get us through the next year. It was frightening.
The governor ordered water agencies to reduce water use by an average of 25 percent. All of us were asked to practice water conservation measures like never before. We did and it worked in most places. Our taps did not run dry.
Miraculously, there were record-breaking winter storms the following year that left a huge snowpack in the mountains. The governor waited until water stored in reservoirs had recovered before declaring the statewide drought was over.
Locally, the drought is not over.
In the San Bernardino Valley, the drought continues into the 20th year with no end in sight.
Why is that?
• Because rainfall has been well below normal every single year; and
• Because water stored as groundwater in our local basins remain at record lows.
In fact, less water is stored as groundwater today than 64 years ago when the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District was created to import water from Northern California from the new California Aqueduct that was being constructed.
Voters approved paying property taxes after experiencing another 20-year drought between 1945 and 1965 for imported water that district uses to recharge our groundwater basins.
It has worked most of the time. Water supply has met local demands. It must work for a region that is continuing to grow.
You are reading these side-by-side columns because soon you’ll be asked to vote for the director to serve you the next four years. I am the director, running for re-election who you chose in 2014.
I challenged Anthony G. Jones, who is a candidate, about his campaign statement that contains two statements about drought. Both, in my opinion, are false and misleading.
The court decided that Mr. Jones’ First Amendment rights give him broad latitude to express his opinion and I accept that decision.
Mr. Jones is going to tell you that,“The state of California has declared the drought is over and yet those same drought-era taxing mechanisms are still taking money from tax-paying citizens for a non-existing concern” and “We have basins in the hills of San Bernardino holding record levels of water.”
I will tell you that facts don’t lie. The Valley District staff reports that annual rainfall and the amount of water stored as groundwater in our local basins has declined for the past 20 years.
Their charts show we experienced drought between 1945 and 1965. We are now in a 20-year drought that began in 1998 with no end in sight.
This information was provided to me, as a director, to help me make wise decisions.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share these facts with you and also wish to thank the Highland Community News for printing these two columns to help you decide.
Please vote on Nov. 6.
Susan Lien Longville has served Division III residents on the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District since 2014.