Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) has released its proposed Drought Contingency Plan in response to expected supply shortages and demand increases.
Given California’s recent bouts with extreme drought, it is vital that water agencies develop short-term and long-term plans that factor in drought conditions, water supply, and population needs. The Press Enterprise recently published an article on EVMWD’s Drought Contingency Plan, which reads as follows:
While wet weather last winter and spring ended a half-decade of drought in California, a water district that serves much of southwestern Riverside County is preparing for future dry years and water shortages.
Anticipating customer demand to double by 2040 as its water supply shrinks, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District has created a proposed Drought Contingency Plan in conjunction.
The 178-page plan prepared by consulting firm Civiltec Engineering is now available for public review on the district’s website and was presented to the agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday, Sept. 14, in anticipation of full adoption later this year.
“The need for the development of a Drought Contingency Plan is overwhelming,” states the document’s executive summary. “The (plan) will allow EVMWD to proactively offset the direct impacts that past and current drought conditions have left us to deal with and thwart negative future drought impacts.”
Financed by a $115,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the plan analyzes the region’s susceptibility to drought and actions that can be taken to prepare and respond to it.
Planning Officer Jack Simes of the bureau’s Southern California office in Temecula said the efforts are part of a growing awareness in the state and nation of vulnerability to long-term drought.
Elsinore Valley is one of four agencies in Southern California awarded the bureau’s drought planning grants, Simes said. The others were the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Chino Hills, the City of Rialto, and Southern California Edison for Catalina Island.
“What the plan does is identify and evaluate risks and impacts from drought and this (Elsinore Valley) plan hopefully has a framework to look at both near and long-term water availability and predict the probability of future droughts,” Simes said.
Founded in the 1950s, the Elsinore Valley district supplies water and sewer service to nearly 150,000 residential customers and about 3,800 institutions and businesses in Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Canyon Lake, northern Murrieta, Lakeland Village and Temescal Valley.
While the district has an ordinance in place that mandates water-use restrictions at various drought stages, it does not address what can be done to cope with shortages before they happen.
“What we have now is reactionary,” district Community Affairs Supervisor Bonnie Woodrome said. “This Drought Contingency Plan is proactive. It includes plans for storage and efficiencies.
“We’re focusing a lot on local supplies and our teams here are working toward ensuring more local supplies are available so the district can offset any imported supply that isn’t available to us during a dry time.”
According to the plan, the district’s current demand is 25,500 acre feet per year. The equivalent of 325,851 gallons, an acre foot on average supplies about two families with enough water for a year, Woodrome said.
Over the next 23 years, the demand among district customers is expected to rise to 51,600 acre feet, at which time the district’s water supply would fall 16,100 acre feet short if nothing is done. Meanwhile, environmental analysts forecast less precipitation in the region and rising average temperatures, which means faster evaporation.
Faced with those challenges, the contingency plan delineates a series of projects that would augment the supply, while the district will continue to expand conservation efforts. Now, the district gets water from local basins, including the Canyon Lake reservoir, as well as imported supplies through the State Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct.
On the immediate horizon, the district is working on plans to augment its supply by pumping water from three ground water basins within its jurisdiction and refurbishing a well. Those sources will yield nearly 4,000 acre feet.
In conjunction with the plan, the district has organized a task force of local leaders and representatives of agencies that overlap its boundaries or have direct dealings with the district.
Membership consists of a team of Elsinore Valley employees, the Western Municipal Water District, Riverside County, the district’s cities, Lake Elsinore Unified School District, Murrieta Unified School District, the local commerce chambers, the Links at Summerly Golf Course, U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, the Northwest Mosquito and Vector Control District, and the Sierra Club.
“As far as the task force, EVMWD will continue to involve the members, stakeholders and the public in the process and will continue to seek feedback through public meetings and outreach forums,” Woodrome said.
To read the original article published by the Press Enterprise, click here.