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Inland Agency to Weigh Options Amid Worries Over Water Supplies

According to state officials, reservoirs, lakes and other storage facilities from which water is distributed to an estimated 25 million Californians are at levels not seen since the drought of 1977.

How to cope with state cuts to local water supplies amid the worst drought in California in more than three decades will be a leading topic on the Eastern Municipal Water District Board of Governors' meeting Wednesday.

"With an unprecedented situation such as this, it is important that our board has a full understanding of the unique and challenging situation facing our region and our state," board President Phil Paule said.

"We want to ensure that we have the information to make educated decisions about our drought-related efforts as we move forward to navigate these difficult times as they relate to our water supplies."

EMWD staff are planning a "Drought Workshop" as part of the board's regular agenda. The meeting kicked off at 9 a.m. at the agency's headquarters, 2270 Trumble Road, Perris.

According to EMWD officials, the agency has prepared for rainless days by making "storage and reliability investments" over the past 20 years. Thus, even though the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, from which the EMWD buys supplies, is facing a squeeze due to state actions, water rationing is not in the immediate future of EMWD customers.

However, the agency strongly encouraged more conservation. The district serves about 758,000 people over a 542-square-mile area, from Moreno Valley south along Interstate 215 to Temecula, and east to the San Jacinto Valley.

Last week, the California Department of Water Resources announced that 29 municipal agencies that receive annual allocations from the State Water Project would get zero this year if the drought persists. In addition to the MWD, a major wholesaler of water to Inland Empire utilities, the following agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties will be directly affected by the state cutbacks:

  • Coachella Valley Water District
  • Crestline-Lake Arrowhead Water Agency
  • San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District
  • San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency

According to state officials, reservoirs, lakes and other storage facilities from which water is distributed to an estimated 25 million Californians are at levels not seen since the drought of 1977.

"Simply put, there's not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the (State Water) Project," DWR Director Mark Cowin said Friday.

He said local agencies will have to lean more on local wells, aquifers and lakes to meet demand. The zero allocation declaration was made, Cowin said, under the auspices of Gov. Jerry Brown's Jan. 17 drought emergency proclamation.

According to state officials, the statewide snowpack is only 12 percent of its historic average for this time of year.

"While additional winter storms may provide a limited boost to reservoir storage and water deliveries, it would need to rain and snow heavily, every day, from now until May to get us back to average annual rain and snowfall," according to a DWR statement. "Even then, California would still be in a drought."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 284 counties in 11 states in a drought crisis as of Jan. 29. All of California -- except for Imperial County -- is listed as being in a condition of either "severe" or "extreme" drought.


– Reported by City News Service.

Chester February 06, 2014 at 10:27 AM
It's time to fire up the cloud seeding program.
Alek J Hidell February 06, 2014 at 11:19 AM
I grew up in places where each house had a water tank to use when the water taps stop flowing...high up on their roof to allow for gravity flow. Buckets used to flush toilets.... That would be a good investment now, those water tanks. Oh and where I was a generator was necessary for the constant brown-outs... Now that we will soon be a "Third World" nation, we need to pay attention to our wise southern neighbors, they are well used to being abandoned by their government.
SA February 06, 2014 at 03:44 PM
Such a Democrat move to deny producers water to save anything that is not human verbal BJ to get more tax money… Southern California has always been in a drought as it is a DESERT is why William Mulholland built the aqueduct …
ChrisG February 07, 2014 at 10:12 AM
According to the article, "reservoirs, lakes and other storage facilities from which water is distributed to an estimated 25 million Californians are at levels not seen since the drought of 1977." A lot of this is natural weather cycles. A lot is government mismanagement. All of us need to be better stewards though. My sprinklers went off this morning because I forgot to turn the timer off. Most of my neighbors too. Lots of sprinklers watering sidewalks and streets. We can do a lot to conserve.
anotherview February 07, 2014 at 12:03 PM
This latest drought offers an opportunity to discuss water allocation in California. Farmers use about 85 percent of the available water. Households use about 5 percent. The rest of the water goes to government, business, and miscellaneous use. From this breakdown, a citizen may calculate that if farmers cut back only about 6 percent of their water use, this small water-use cutback would equal the entire amount of water used by households. This cutback could occur by market economics if the government stopped supplying water to farmers at a price below the market price. This government subsidy encourages farmers to use their water supply irresponsibly. For example, farmers raise rice, and this crop uses flood irrigation instead of more controlled use like for row crops. As another example, although change has begun, farmers allow unused irrigation water to run off their property to waste instead of capturing this runoff onsite to recycle. Hence, if farmers received no government water subsidy, then farm water use would drop significantly via smarter farming in accord with market pressure. The State of California would then have plenty of water for household use and for farming.
AlwaysPO'd February 11, 2014 at 11:55 PM
"With an unprecedented situation such as this, it is important that our board has a full understanding of the unique and challenging situation facing our region and our state," board President Phil Paule said." _________________________________________________ Mr. Paule needs to do his homework before assuming he knows the meaning of the word "unprecedented".

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