By Yvonne Hester
Community Liaison Officer
Mojave Water Agency
A new spirit of cooperation among the High Desert communities, evidenced in recent joint marketing efforts, bodes well for planning water projects and programs for the Mojave Desert. An update of the 2004 Mojave Integrated Regional Water Management (MIRWM) Plan is underway, and offers communities new opportunities to plan for water needs.
Leading this effort is the Regional Water Management Group comprised of the Mojave Water Agency (MWA), Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District, Morongo Baseline Pipeline Commission, and the Technical Advisory Committee to MWA.
The planning process is a collaborative, stakeholder-driven effort to manage all aspects of water resources in the region and set a vision for the next 10-plus years of water management in the High Desert. During this process, participants will discuss water supplies, water quality, flood management, water rights, water resources, and more.
As the agency charged with ensuring sustainable water supplies in the region, Mojave Water Agency carries out the plans and programs recommended in the MIRWM Plan.The first integrated plan yielded huge dividends for the High Desert region. Over the last 10 years $170 million in local, state, and federal dollars have been invested in local water infrastructure and water supplies. This included the construction of pipelines and groundwater recharge sites, investment in new water supplies, development of an aggressive water conservation program, and removal of invasive species in the Mojave River.
Among these projects is the recent completion of the Regional, Recharge and Recovery Project, called R3. This project delivers State Water Project water from the California Aqueduct in Hesperia to recharge sites along the Mojave River in Hesperia and southern Apple Valley. Production wells, owned by MWA, on either side of the Mojave River located immediately downstream of the recharge area will then recover and deliver the stored water through pipelines directly to retail water agencies. This $53 million project was constructed with more than $21 million in Proposition 50 IRWM funds. These funds, combined with federal grants and an MWA match, made the construction of this project possible.
The R3 Project is an excellent example of a conjunctive use–one that coordinates the use of surface water and groundwater supplies to maximize the yield of the overall water resource. Another key strategy used in the MWA water portfolio is conservation.
“Cash for Grass,” the Agency’s most successful water conservation program, also received $2 million in Proposition 84 funds as a result of the last integrated plan. The program offers customers a rebate of fifty cents per square foot for living and maintained turf that is removed and replaced with desert friendly landscaping. Residential customers may receive a rebate up to $3,000 and commercial/industrial/institutional customers up to $10,000. To date, more than 3,200 projects have been completed with participants receiving some $2 million in direct rebates. In a service area of approximately 450,000 residents, more than638 gallons per capita is being saved each year and this figure continues to grow.
Much progress has been made in the High Desert region, but statewide water issues affect availability. Successful integrated planning will yield new projects and programs for the region that will help MWA further reduce reliance on imported water from the Delta, and create a sustainable water supply.
While the Mojave Water Agency is responsible for managing the region’s water supply, successful plans reflect input from the entire region. During this planning process a number of opportunities to participate are available. The next Technical Advisory Committee meeting is June 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Mojave Water Agency located at 13846 Conference Center Drive, Apple Valley. Additionally, a number of public meetings are being held through the region. For more information on the plan or any of the public meetings, call 760.946.7000 or visit www.mywaterplan.com