By Michael Stevens
Community Liaison Officer
There’s a saying that goes: “No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan.” This adage, however, cannot apply to Mojave Water Agency (MWA) and most water agencies in the High Desert as we work to provide water for a region totaling 437,357 people-and expected to increase 60% by 2035 to 706,388.
The adage can’t apply because in 1983, the State of California adopted the Urban Water Management Planning Act, which requires water agencies to prepare an Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) every five years when a water agency’s service area includes at least 3,000 connections or water deliveries are equal to or greater than 3,000 acre-feet per year.
Despite better-than-average precipitation levels this past winter and this spring-and the recent cancellation of a three-year statewide drought-the state’s water resources are still subject to increasing demand for a finite supply. Urban Water Management Plans are developed and implemented at the local level in order to ensure effective conservation, water use efficiency and long-term supply reliability. And the Plans work!
For Mojave Water Agency its Plan works because of a proven track record of planning, preparing, and positioning. The Urban Water Management Planning Act requires water agencies to assess growth trends and project water demands a minimum of 20 years in the future. But adoption of the UWMP is one step that helps our region meet future water demands.
Equally critical is executing the Plan and making decisions at the right time, and taking advantage of opportunities that sometimes aren’t always available. One such decision by MWA occured in 1997. Recognizing the explosive growth in the High Desert region, the MWA board made a decision in an intense bidding climate to purchase additional water rights to meet future local water demands.
Again in 2009 the board purchased additional water rights with an “eye on the future” didn’t take too long to arrive because in 2010 the Agency was able to cash in and not just have “access” to water rights but was able to “purchase water” as a result of the additional water rights.
What this means is that MWA’s water deliveries in 2010 through the State Water Project marked the second year in a row the Agency took delivery of its full amount of water available (41,400 acre-feet) but without the acquisition of the additional water rights the total would only have been 37,900! The water delivered was enough to meet all of MWA’s delivery obligations-with 17,600 acre-feet going to underground storage for future use. MWA has planned, prepared, and positioned itself for several years and will continue with the goal of “leaving no water behind.”
Another Key decision enabling the Agency to meet water demands well beyond 20-years was the investment in aggressive water conservation starting in February 2008. The $3,146,605 million dollar invested in the conservation program thus far has seen 3.6 million square footage of turf removed, 1,200 toilets replaced with high efficiency toilets, and 1,989 high efficiency clothes washer rebates issued-resulting in a savings of 876 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot (approximately 326,000 gallons) is enough water to serve a family of four for a year.
The decisions to purchase additional water rights and invest in conservation enabled the Agency’s UWMP to exceed the state’s minimum of 25-years with the ability to plan for beyond.
The public will have several opportunities to provide input about the UWMP during a 30-day public comment period between April 5-May 5 while the draft is available for public review. To view the report you can visit the MWA website: (www.mojavewater.org) or to see a hard copy, visit either local library branch or MWA’s front counter. In addition, the MWA Board of Directors will hold a workshop on April 14th and a public hearing on May 5th before adopting the plan on June 9th.
For more information about Mojave Water Agency, visit our website: www.mojavewater.orgor Facebook page: http:facebook.com/mojavewater, or to speak to someone call: 1-800-254-4242.
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