Tag Archives: Northern California

7/28/2011 News Hawk: Southern California Water Leaders Challenged To Help Create a Groundwater Storage Plan

Southern California Water Leaders Challenged To Help Create a Groundwater Storage Plan By Mike Adams on Jul 28 2011 “We want to know what you want so the plan is done in the best interests of the end user, the water consumer.” Those were the words of Central Basin Municipal Water District General Manager Art Aguilar to a packed room of water industry, community and city leaders about the Central Basin Groundwater Storage Plan that Central Basin is preparing this year. The plan will address the ecological and financial impact of managing the groundwater basin that extends approximately 270 square miles within the Los Angeles coastal plain and is the primary source of water for more than 2.5 million residents in the region.

In Southern California, water management is a huge issue. About half of the water comes from the area and is stored underground. The rest is imported from the Colorado River and Northern California or is recycled water that is used for specific uses, like irrigating golf courses. Protecting the vital public resource of water is a very important responsibility and it’s a responsibility that Central Basin says is theirs.

“We have a statutory right and a civic obligation to create this plan with input from all our partners. We have been emphatic in saying give us the input and we’ll develop the plan from that input,” Aguilar stated.

Many questions from the audience were about specific elements of the plan, and Central Basin officials repeated Aguilar’s theme. The specific elements need to be developed with the stakeholders, including those attending today’s meeting.

“We will continue to have these meetings out in the public where everyone can participate. We have seen the negative effectives of what backroom deals and secrecy can do to a process like this, and we are absolutely committed to keeping this process transparent,” Aguilar told Newshawks Review after the meeting.

The meeting today was scheduled after Central Basin filed what is called a Notice of Preparation for a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) about the Groundwater Management plan. The NOP has been revised to include a longer project description; a change that Central Basin staff says was made in response to stakeholder feedback received in February. Central Basin’s plan is the first of its kind that will have an EIR of the Central Groundwater Basin, and as such will be the first plan to have an environmental analysis the basin.

The management of groundwater storage is a critical element in assuring that there is a future reliability of drinkable water to the 2.5 million residents Central Basin serves.

The Plan’s objectives are to protect the supply, maximize storage within the Basin, to protect local decision-making authority and local water rights as well as improving the reliability of supply during drought or emergencies.

One audience member asked why Central Basin was preparing a plan and the Southern California Water Replenishment District had already submitted a plan, which was rejected in Los Angeles courts.

Aguilar repeated that Central Basin has the statutory authority to create a storage plan and manage groundwater, and that it intends to do just that.

The current public comment period for the Program Environmental Impact Report will last until August 20th. Central Basin then said it will publish the draft report which will be reviewed by the public for 45 days and will include public meetings as part of that review process.

Central Basin said it expects the final report will be ready by December at which time it will hold public hearing with an anticipated approval of the Plan set for the first quarter of 2012.

“We have been and will continue to conduct an inclusive process where all of our stakeholders will be able to participate. The only way that the process will not be inclusive is if people choose not to participate,” Aguilar told the group.

Central Basin Water Resources Manager David Hill, who moderated today’s meeting, reminded the water managers and city officials of the importance of creating a plan that works for the residents of the region.

“To keep our region economically viable we have to do an even better job of conserving and having access to water. The Groundwater Storage Plan will address those issues in a very important and comprehensive way,” he said.