Though summer months have arrived, it’s too soon to forget that a multi-year, near disastrous drought left Californians preserving every last drop. While a series of powerful winter storms drastically relieved these conditions earlier this year, it will not make up for years of deficit, leaving residents wondering - how long will our current water supply last and what is our long-term plan?
While there is great reason to celebrate – much of the state out of drought, reservoirs overflowing, and groundwater basins replenishing giving essential support to communities and businesses – we cannot rely on unpredictable, intense rainstorms as California’s long-term water supply management plan. We must remain water efficient, and live this California lifestyle, in all weather conditions and seasons, especially as Colorado River supplies remain uncertain.
Over the last 40 years, average temperatures have increased and are predicted to continue doing so, furthering a multitude of issues for our water supply. Intense, fast-moving rainstorms that overwhelm the state's existing water systems, and hotter, dryer weather conditions will continue to be the new normal for California as our two main seasons. These boom or bust style weather extremes create unpredictable scenarios for California’s water systems that require strategic, long-term and immediate resolutions from the statewide level. Statewide and regional solutions coupled with individual water efficiency efforts will become more important in future years to make the Inland Empire more resilient against drought.
Historically, Inland Empire residents have worked collectively in dire circumstances to rise to the occasion and stretch water supplies for themselves and future generations. Our partnership wants to recognize these diligent efforts that have helped us meet our water supply goals and successfully navigate out of the drought. Inland Empire water super-savers, we send you our appreciation, acknowledge the mindful efforts you made and the dedication you kept to our precious resource. While the urgency isn’t as dire today, it’s important that you maintain this water-efficient lifestyle year-round, especially outdoors where 60% of water use occurs. It is a lifestyle, not a trend. The more efficient we are when it rains, the longer we extend our water supply when it’s dry, because we can’t predict when the next storm will take place.
While you continue to preserve our water supply, Inland Empire water agencies will continue to collaboratively invest in significant infrastructure projects and initiatives to capture water when it’s available while urging state officials to follow suit. These regional and statewide infrastructure investments are essential to meet the future water needs of our region.
Advancing large-scale stormwater, recycling, and water quality programs to further our water supply goals is work that our partnership is committed to and consistently works toward. The Inland Empire Water Partnership is united in our commitment to maintain and build reliable, high-quality water supplies that are more resilient against an uncertain water future.
For example, the Inland Empire Utilities Agency is growing its recycled water supply with multiple projects and partnerships including the expansion of its Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 5 and the development of the innovative Chino Basin Program (CBP), a water banking program that will address challenges caused by climate change. As a part of this effort to increase local supply reliability, through the CBP, IEUA and its partners will design, construct, and operate an Advanced Water Purification Facility, groundwater injection facilities, pump stations, new wells, and connection lines.
In addition, Western Water is advancing water supply reliability through a series of efforts, including preparing to purchase excess water available this year and storing it in its local groundwater basins for future dry years. Western Water is also taking action through investments in innovative infrastructure projects, including groundwater wells, treatment and conveyance facilities.
Similarly, Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) completed work on its Mountain Avenue West Groundwater Replenishment Facility, which will serve as the home for EMWD’s Water Banking program as part of its Groundwater Reliability Plus initiative.
Our partnership works to be the regional voice of the Inland Empire to raise awareness about the conditions impacting your water supply, advance solutions, deliver high-quality, clean and safe water supplies, and promote water efficiency as a way of life. We rely on and thank our customers for embracing efficiency to ensure a collective approach is taken to resolve these larger-than-life issues while we continue highlighting the need for water solutions, advance statewide infrastructure improvements and water quality programs.
Joe Mouawad, General Manager of Eastern Municipal Water District; Shivaji Deshmukh, General Manager of Inland Empire Utilities Agency; Heather Dyer, General Manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District; and Craig Miller, General Manager of Western Water, unite as the regional voice of water issues in the Inland Empire through their partnership, The Inland Empire Water Partnership.
The Inland Empire Water Partnership consists of four unified water districts – Eastern Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Western Water – representing the water resources of 3.4 million Southern Californians. To learn more about the partnership and its efforts, visit: iewaterpartners.com