A meeting Monday between Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and Eastern Municipal Water District was aimed at finding a solution for a troubled, private water company that straddles the two agencies’ boundaries.
According to a joint announcement from the two districts following the meeting, an agreement and grant money is needed, along with Sacramento's help, to get the ball rolling.
County Water Company of Riverside provides drinking water to roughly 140 homes in the northeast corner of Wildomar and the abutting area of Menifee. But the small company's water has been found to have unsafe nitrate levels and is unreliable, often leaving residents without any water supply. Click here for more on that story.
Eastern and EVMWD have been working in concert for more than a year to find a solution that will include the dissolution of the County Water Company of Riverside and the installation of new infrastructure in the service area, according to the joint announcement released Tuesday by Eastern and EVMWD.
The new system will be paid for through grants from the California Department of Public Health; no costs will be borne by any current Eastern or EVMWD ratepayers, according to the announcement.
“This is a serious public health situation and we feel for these residents and understand the difficulty of the situation they are in. Both agencies are committed to doing all we can to provide a solution, while still protecting the interests of our current ratepayers,” Eastern Board President Phil Paule said in the release.
Eastern and EVMWD are looking to new legislation that, if passed, would relieve the two municipal water districts from potential liability during the dissolution and takeover of the private water company.
The legislation, SB 772, was introduced by Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) and coauthored by Richard Roth (D-Riverside). On Sept. 9, it was re-referred to committees. Click here to read the bill's text.
Tuesday's joint announcement from the two districts stated the legislation would include language to limit liability relating to interim operation of the system during construction; liability for issues stemming from ownership and operation by the prior owners; and future claims that stem from any remaining portions of the existing system.
Both Eastern and EVMWD maintain that passage of the legislation is critical to the potential takeover of the current County Water Company system. Meanwhile, negotiations on the four-party agreement between Eastern, EVMWD, the County of Riverside and the County Water Company are ongoing, Tuesday’s announcement continued.
“Should an agreement be reached and grant funding be secured, the County Water Company service area would have to be incorporated into the respective District boundaries. The area would also have to be accepted into the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, so that imported water supplies could be provided,” the announcement read.
The proposed infrastructure improvements will also involve installation of fire hydrants in the community to assist in fire protection. Currently, there is one hydrant in the County Water Company service area, with inadequate system pressure to sustain fire flow, the announcement continued.
“We are fully committed to this process,” Elsinore Valley Board President Phil Williams said in the release. “This process is complex and involves many moving targets. With that in mind, our two agencies are prepared to do all we can to see this process through to the end to ensure that a safe and reliable water supply is available to these residents.”