Repository logo

Groundwater management - building consensus




Crother, Christie Moon, author
Mortazavi, Behrooz, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Located in western Riverside County, in southern California, the Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) covers over 555 square miles with a population of nearly 400,000. Only about 20% of the total water sold by EMWD for municipal use is groundwater, the remaining 80% is imported. With the increasing uncertainty of imported water, both in terms of cost and availability, EMWD has identified groundwater resources management, reclaimed water reuse, and conservation as priorities. The West San Jacinto Groundwater Management Plan was adopted by EMWD's Board of Directors on June 8, 1995. This is the first and most comprehensive plan adopted in southern California under the authority of California State Assembly Bill 3030, now part of the State Water Code. The plan area covers 256 square miles, nearly half of EMWD's service area. Groundwater quality is marginal in many of the subbasins, such that agricultural and municipal uses are restricted. Potential water shortages, increasing costs, and water quality problems provide the need for a comprehensive groundwater management plan. Plan objectives include meeting future water demands, increasing the reliability of water, minimizing water costs, maximizing reclaimed water use, protecting and/or enhancing basin-wide water quality, protecting local water rights, enhancing basin yields, and maximizing groundwater basin storage. Initially, public reaction, particularly from the farming community, was one of-concern and suspicion that the District would try to put a limit on groundwater production by farmers, would try to finance the plan through a replenishment assessment or "pump tax" on groundwater produced and would try to force the farmers to use lower quality reclaimed water rather than groundwater. Ten public meetings with presentations were held along with six information workshops and fourteen individual meetings. In all, over one hundred interested parties - property owners, cities, agencies, groups, and attorneys - attended meetings and/or provided comments. Prior to adoption, the plan was modified to more accurately address concerns. Finally a plan evolved that most of the agricultural community supported, some enthusiastically. As a result, protest at the adoption hearing was minimal, far less than 1%, with only one individual speaking against adoption and many speaking in favor. The West San Jacinto Groundwater Management Plan is an historic development that will ensure water for domestic and agricultural users, help protect the interests of existing groundwater producers, provide a framework for new water supply projects for the benefit of the groundwater producers and the public, and ensure the economic viability of the region.


Presented at Competing interests in water resources - searching for consensus: proceedings from the USCID water management conference held on December 5-7, 1996 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rights Access



Associated Publications