By Tamara Alaniz
Mojave Water Agency
Responsible water management policies require sensible and transparent fiscal management processes. Securing water rights, building delivery infrastructure, and maintaining intricate systems of pipelines, pumps and pressure valves are all long-term projects requiring long-term capital funding procurement and coalition-building to secure a stable and sustainable supply of high quality water for the High Desert.
The Mojave Water Agency Board and staff work year-round to be forward-thinking, anticipating trends in policies affecting both water and economics. Combined with a conservative fiscal approach, the timing of MWA Board decisions has resulted in many science-based solutions to critical issues before they affect the region. This approach has suited our stakeholders well by positioning the agency to develop and fund regionally-appropriate policies and programs, both in preparation for leaner property tax revenues and anticipation of state/ federal government requirements.
The approach used to develop solutions, propose them to the Board for adoption and implement adopted policies stems from our cyclical outlook on regional water management and program/project funding needs. This process is largely driven by the development of the agency’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP). These multi-agency, regional plans are developed in cooperation with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a stakeholder-driven group comprised of local water districts, resource management agencies, and other affected stakeholders from the MWA service area.
As the needs of the region are assessed by the TAC and MWA Board, projects emerge and programmatic and economic analyses are performed in order to prioritize projects inside of the plan. As financing options are explored and developed, an action plan of implementation is created and ultimately executed, completing the fiscal planning and capital expenditure cycle used by the Agency.
MWA has re-entered that cycle again, with over $120 million now invested in capital projects identified from the last round of planning. These investments include the Regional Recharge and Recovery Project, Oro Grande Wash Recharge Project, Water Conservation Incentive Program, Invasive Species Removal Program, Joshua Basin Recharge Project, Ames/Reche Groundwater Storage and Recovery Program/Management Agreement, and others. Despite a 26% decline in property tax revenues, reserves remain strong and the agency is well positioned to identify and prioritize more current, innovative opportunities for future regional water management actions.
Many examples of successful economic and programmatic results from this forward-thinking approach are below:
- The development and adoption of the MWA 2004 Regional Water Management Plan was done in close cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and local stakeholders, helping to secure over $50 million in grant funding between 2004 and 2012 toward the water management projects identified in the previous paragraph.
- Regional conservation actions toward a goal of reducing gallons per capita per day (gpcd) water usage by 20% before the year 2020 was adopted in early 2004, over five years before the state mandated its incorporation into the 2009 Legislative Water Package (SB7x et al.); and the High Desert region is well on its way to reaching that goal.
- A Five-Year Strategic Financial Plan was adopted in 2005, setting a course for securing grant funding awards and the match funding needed for their receipt. By identifying capital project funding approaches and grant eligibility needs, this plan gave the agency a “leg up” when it came to procuring funding partnerships.
- To responsibly pay for and deliver available imported water supplies for groundwater banking, the agency adopted its Groundwater Banking Policy in 2006, establishing thresholds and direction for anticipating, saving and spending on groundwater recharge supplies before they become available for purchase.
- MWA invests in future imported supplies with long-term sustainability in mind, thus the 2009 purchase of an additional 14,000 acre-feet of imported water supplies from the State Water Project. Regional economic strength will continue to rely upon stable water supplies – including imported supplies. Identifying demands and investing in their delivery has helped to situate the High Desert with a high quality of life for residents in a business-friendly climate.
- In 2012, the construction and operation of both R-cubed and the Oro Grande Wash Recharge Project are current examples of regional water management solutions derived from the IRWMP process. These projects provide a more sustainable water supply for the communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and unincorporated San Bernardino County.
As the process for IRWMP development continues, we invite stakeholders and water users in the High Desert to participate with us in the planningprocess. Watch for TAC meetings on both Facebook and the Board and Committee meeting calendar on our website to keep up-to-date on opportunities to participate in this important process.
For more information on Mojave Water Agency or to speak with our highly qualified staff about your water management questions, we can be reached by telephone at (760) 946-7000. You can check out our website at www.mojavewater.org, or catch us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mojavewater.
Mojave Water Agency is one of 29 State Water Project contractors with access to water from the California Aqueduct. As the only wholesaler in the region, we import high quality water supplies and recharge our groundwater supplies, securing a stable and sustainable supply for the 4,900 square miles of High Desert we serve.