Collaborative Approach Among Four Public Agencies Ensures Sustainability for Groundwater Supplies
Perris, CA (December 19, 2023) — For the past decade, the Hemet-San Jacinto Watermaster has been a critical administrator of a regional effort to create long-term groundwater sustainability throughout the San Jacinto Valley.
The Watermaster is comprised of representatives from the four public agencies that rely on the San Jacinto Groundwater Basin – Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD), Lake Hemet Municipal Water District (Lake Hemet), and the cities of Hemet and San Jacinto. Private groundwater producers are also represented on its Board of Directors.
In April 2013, a Stipulated Judgement was entered with the Riverside County Superior Court, adopting the management plan and creating the Watermaster. Its role is to protect the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians water rights that were established by the Soboba Settlement Act. The Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in July 2008 to remediate the loss of water by Soboba due to a variety of factors.
Since its formation in 2013, the Watermaster has worked closely with its member agencies to bring the basin into a path of sustainability.
“The Watermaster is incredibly proud of the progress it has made in the past decade,” said Behrooz Mortazavi, the advisor to the Watermaster. “Because of our collaborative approach to working with the local agencies, the groundwater basin is now on a sustainable path for all users within the San Jacinto Valley and will continue to be for future generations.”
As part of its partnership with the Watermaster, EMWD plays an important role by operating the regional facilities that deliver high-quality water imported from the State Water Project to groundwater replenishment ponds located within the San Jacinto Riverbed.
A 10-year rolling annual average of 7,500 acre feet of water is replenished into the basin through those facilities, which are maintained by EMWD. Due to California’s historic rainfall last winter, the agencies have completed their 2024 replenishment obligations ahead of schedule.
The Watermaster has also established groundwater pumping limits for its Judgement participants, helping to promote long-term sustainability for all users within the region. In the past decade, groundwater pumping has been reduced by approximately 10,000 acre feet per year to eliminate overdraft.
In the past decade, the Watermaster’s area has seen population growth of 52 percent but reduced groundwater pumping by 18 percent. The public agencies have also accumulated more than 77,000 acre feet of credits that may be used in future years. Credits are earned when an agency uses less water than its allotment in a year.
“Our region, including the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, has a better water supply future because of the work we have put forward in the past decade,” said EMWD Board President Phil Paule, who serves as EMWD’s representative to the Watermaster’s Board of Directors. “We are incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished in the past year and look forward to the future opportunities to successfully and collaboratively manage our region’s valuable groundwater resources.”
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Eastern Municipal Water District is the water, wastewater service and recycled water provider to nearly one million people living and working within a 558-square mile service area in western Riverside County. It is California’s sixth-largest retail water agency, and its mission is “To deliver value to our diverse customers and the communities we serve by providing safe, reliable, economical and environmentally sustainable water, wastewater and recycled water services.” More information can be found at www.emwd.org.