Water-independent Riverside forced to cut use 28%

The grousing over Gov. Jerry Brown’s April order of sweeping cutbacks in water use — from 12 percent to 36 percent, depending on local factors — was widespread and instantaneous. Farmers in urban areas objected to facing more cutbacks than those in rural areas. Complaints from agencies which have done a good job in improving water supplies but still faced sharp cuts received plenty of attention, such as this Associated Press story focusing on the San Diego County Water Authority.

riversideBut perhaps no community has more cause to be upset than the city of Riverside. In the name of preserving limited water supplies in the Bay Delta, a city that gets no water from the Bay Delta and has taken many successful steps to be water-independent has been forced to cut water consumption by 28 percent. The Riverside Press-Enterprise elaborates on why city leaders have chosen to sue the state, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction:

Riverside has its own groundwater supplies from the Bunker Hill Basin and is independent of imported water, said Kevin Milligan, deputy general manager at Riverside Public Utilities. …


The city applied to the state to be included in a special tier requiring only a 4 percent reduction, but was denied. The 4 percent tier requires a reliable water supply, but applies only to surface water, not groundwater, he said. …


“The only difference is surface water you can see and groundwater you can’t,” he said. …


To make itself water independent, the city has invested in the John W. North Water Treatment Plan, drilled new wells, captures storm water from the Seven Oaks Dam and has spent $10 million dollars on recycled water infrastructure, he said.


Thought it has been drawn down in the drought, the Bunker Hill Basin has at least 1.4 million acre feet of storage left and maybe as much as 5.4 million acre feet, Milligan said. One acre-foot of water is enough to serve two families for a year.

State authorities also rejected Riverside’s separate request for a 24 percent reduction instead of a 28 percent cut, disputing the city’s claim that it didn’t count college students in deciding which tier the city would be in.

More water intrigue in Riverside County

The city of Riverside has regional company in being consumed with water issues and concerns about how to respond to the drought.

golfAs CalWatchdog reported in June, officials in Palm Springs and throughout the Coachella Valley are facing criticism over the vast amounts of water it takes to keep their 124 golf courses and dozens of resorts green and attractive. The explanation that the tourist region has plenty of cheap water thanks to plentiful underground aquifers — despite being located in a desert — hasn’t stemmed the criticism.

Meanwhile, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, which serves more than 130,000 people in Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Wildomar and many unincorporated communities, also has been subject to a mandatory 28 percent cut even though it has “already reduced water use by more than 25 percent since 2007 – surpassing the state’s mandated 20 percent by 2020 per capita goal established in 2009. … [Having] these new restrictions unfairly penalized our customers, who have set one of the best examples in the state over the last five years,” Elsinore Valley board President Phil Williams wrote in the Press-Enterprise.

Brown’s emergency water edict expires in February; under state law, it can only extend a maximum of 270 days. Water officials are expected to begin discussions soon on what rules will replace the existing ones.

A key factor will be whether the winter’s expected winter “Godzilla El Niño” brings the massive amount of rain that some — but not all — scientists expect.


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  1. Dude
    Dude 6 September, 2015, 10:32

    “……Water officials are expected to begin discussions soon on what rules will replace the existing ones.”

    I hate being right all the time. I’ve repeated this truth consistently since the beginning of the politically motivated creation of this manufactured pseudo-crisis known as Global Cooling/Warming/Somethinging’ Government control of every aspect of our lives is their goal.

    Reply this comment
  2. spurwing Plover
    spurwing Plover 6 September, 2015, 22:41

    California would’nt be in this kind of mess if they had built more cnnals and resivors but the usual bunch of eco-freaks who care more for some stupid worthless tiny fish(Deleta Smelt)wont allow it to happen and the usial unelected judges using the Unonstitutional ESA block any new cannels and resuvours

    Reply this comment
  3. desmond
    desmond 7 September, 2015, 02:59

    Waiting for El Nino t be dud. Explanation will be the predictions are unreliable due to climate you know what, and the climate youknowwhat drought becomes worse.

    Reply this comment
  4. Dude
    Dude 7 September, 2015, 10:43

    It’s inevitable; Whether California gets a ton of rain this year or remains dry…….either way it will be attributed to the manufactured pseudo crisis that now can only be referred to as “Global Somethinging”

    Reply this comment
  5. Another Disgruntled Citizen
    Another Disgruntled Citizen 7 September, 2015, 15:09

    How bad can it get?

    I am fascinated by the appalling ignorance and stupidity displayed by the many (how many are there, anyway?) elected and appointed officials in Sacramento in particular and everywhere else at every level of government in general. But, I can say that once in awhile, somebody gets it right. The Riverside Public Utilities Department has been working for ten or twenty years (I forget which) preparing for the inevitable drought. About five years ago they began a huge campaign to get Riversiders to cut back. First, it was stop wasting water. Then, it was find ways to do the same thing with less water. Then, it was make material changes to your ways so you might actually be doing something different. At every step of the way, the RPU let their rate-payers know how the campaign was going. The people meet the goals, and then some, but are now facing having to cut back farther than anyone else in the state (if you look at the cumulative cuts) when Riverside really ought not be doing this.

    For, unbeknownst to the powers that be up in the exalted bureaus of Leviathan, if you get your water out of a well with a pump, you have to keep getting it out of the well on a regular basis so that it doesn’t fill up too high. Apparently, if the water rises up past a certain point it can damage the pumps. And, if the water level isn’t that low during this time of exended drought, then it won’t take much in the way of rain to fill them to overflowing because Riversiders aren’t supposed to be using enough water to do that.

    I am not making this up.

    So, the question for Governor Brown and his merry band of decree-meisters should be: when the pumps are damaged beyond repair by your water-wasting water policy, who should be stuck with the bill?

    Reply this comment
  6. desmond
    desmond 8 September, 2015, 03:33

    Gov. Brown to disgruntled citizen, “you, and how much retirement savings do you have to pay for illegal’s college, majoring in “ending white privilege”.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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