A Dry Summer in the Inland Empire West

Housing construction in north Fontana, showing the lack of vegetation in the Inland Empire West
By BenFrantzDale – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4055862

We’re dry again. Actually, we’ve been dry since before October 19, 2021.

Following the second driest year on record and with near record low storage in California’s largest reservoirs, Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation extending the drought emergency statewide and further urging Californians to step up their water conservation efforts as the western U.S. faces a potential third dry year.

From https://www.gov.ca.gov/2021/10/19/governor-newsom-expands-drought-emergency-statewide-urges-californians-to-redouble-water-conservation-efforts/

Now this would be the place for me to insert a picture of a dry reservoir, but I prefer statistical evidence to anecdotal evidence. And statistically, one of our local reservoirs, Lake Perris, is definitely lower than it was in prior years.

Regardless of how one feels about governmental powers, I think all of us can agree that if all people and businesses in California use the maximum amount of water, things won’t be so good.

What may IEUA cities do starting June 1?

As a result of the current drought conditions, the Metropolitan Water District has asked the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) and five other agencies to take emergency actions effective June 1.

[T]he MWD has asked six of its member agencies to consider requiring its customers to restrict outdoor watering to just one day per week, or find other ways to conserve water, according to the large water agency that provides water to 19 million people in six counties.

From https://www.dailynews.com/2022/04/26/southern-california-water-supplier-adopts-unprecedented-rule-limiting-outdoor-irrigation/

For the record, the IEUA serves several cities in southwestern San Bernardino County.

As a regional wastewater treatment agency, the Agency provides sewage utility services to seven contracting agencies under the Chino Basin Regional Sewage Service Contract: the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Fontana, Montclair, Ontario, Upland, and Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD) in the city of Rancho Cucamonga.

In addition to the contracting agencies, the Agency provides wholesale imported water from MWD to seven retail agencies: the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Ontario, Upland, CVWD in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana Water Company in the city of Fontana, and Monte Vista Water District (MVWD) in the city of Montclair.

From https://www.ieua.org/about-us/

But the MWD isn’t the only water provider

Notice that MWD has only asked that the IEUA “consider” restrictions. Why can’t MWD mandate them? Because the MWD is not the only water provider for the agencies in question. Take the city of Upland, for example:

The City water interests are a result of either a direct water right or indirectly through its shareholder interest (entitlement) in two private mutual water companies. The City has a 93% shareholder interest in West End Consolidated Water Company (WECWco.). The water received from WECWCo. is local groundwater. The City has a 68% shareholder interest in San Antonio Water Company (SAW Co.). Both local groundwater and surface water from San Antonio Canyon is provided by SAW Co. San Antonio canyon surface water supply is subject to availability and is closely tied to rain and snowpack. This local surface is treated at the City’s San Antonio Water Treatment Plant. In addition to the local surface and groundwater supplies, the City invested and owns 22% interest in an 81 million gallon imported water treatment plant, Water Facilities Authority (WFA-JPA), Agua de Lejos located on Benson Avenue north of 17th Street. The WFA water treatment plant receives Northern California State Project imported water from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) through Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) our MWD member agency. In 2013, IEUA completed regional pipeline facilities and began delivering recycled water. Recycled water is predominantly available in the southeastern sector of the City and is mostly used for large landscape irrigation areas, such as the Upland Hill Country Club Golf Course, City Parks, several school grounds and the Euclid Avenue median.

From https://www.uplandca.gov/water

Cities will require you NOT to water, except when cities require you TO water

As you can see, water rights can get a bit complicated. Especially when a city such as Upland threatens to fine a resident for NOT watering a lawn, as occurred in 2014.

Fernand Bogman stopped watering his grass in an effort to preserve water given current drought conditions.

“Under the current circumstances, I don’t believe that that is acceptable that we waste water,” Bogman told Goldberg.

The situation unfolded a few weeks back after Bogman was told a neighbor complained about his yard to the city.

That phone call led city officials to demand that he keep his grass green.

From https://www.cbsnews.com/losangeles/news/upland-man-could-face-steep-fines-for-allegedly-failing-to-water-lawn/

The charges were eventually dropped in 2015.

Anyway, if you live in one of the named cities, or in any city in California, be sure to keep up with your local city to see if water restrictions will affect you.