Bill to Secure Water for Customers of Broke Utility Headed to Governor's Desk

Affected customers include about 140 households between Menifee and Wildomar.

Proposed legislation intended to help secure water supplies for customers of a Menifee-area utility that's going out of business was unanimously approved Thursday by the state Assembly and now goes to the governor for consideration.

If Senate Bill 1130 is signed into law, it will free the Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District and the Lake Elsinore-based Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District to move ahead with establishing water service for about 140 households between Menifee and Wildomar.

The bill -- sponsored by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside -- would shield the two agencies from any legal liabilities pending against the privately held County Water Co. that is folding and no longer is able to maintain its wells.

The CWC, which is not a Riverside County agency, has been the target of multiple citations for alleged environmental violations stemming from polluted tanks, according to Riverside County Superivor Kevin Jeffries.

Jeffries has made it a priority to secure safe water for the impacted residents who live within his First District.

The EMWD and the EVMWD both have offered to step in and fill the void left by the CWC's dissolution.

The suppliers have established an emergency well and have received $6.25 million in state funding to build the infrastructure necessary to permanently distribute water to the affected area, according to Jeffries.

However, neither agency will assume responsibility for the new customers until SB 1130 is enacted.

"We want to get County Water Company residents safe, reliable and clean water and have worked tirelessly to get this bill through the Legislature as quickly as possible," EVWMD Board of Directors President Andy Morris said.

EMWD Executive Director Phil Paule expressed thanks to Roth and Assemblywoman Melissa Melendrez, R-Lake Elsinore, for pushing to get SB 1130 approved.

"The residents of this community have lived with limited access to safe and reliable drinking water for many years, and today's action by the Assembly is another milestone toward correcting this issue," Paule said.

Once Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, it will take effect immediately because it's an urgency measure, according to the EMWD.

The agency said preparations will get underway immediately to construct a temporary pipeline to enable water deliveries from EMWD and EVMWD wells.

The county is awaiting court approval to become receiver of the CWC's assets, according to Jeffries.

He said the county will be seeking funding under the Proposition 84 Safe Drinking Water bond measure, approved by voters in 2006, and other sources to offset whatever costs are absorbed in securing water for the affected community.

– City News Service. 



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