San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District Reports Excellent Year for Water Recharge
Near Average Rainfall and Recharge of State Project Water Contribute 16 Billion Gallons to Underground Storage, Reflecting 94 Percent of Total Demand for the Region
Redlands, Calif. – Local groundwater storage got a significant boost this year, with more than 16 billion gallons of water recharged underground for future use, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District reported today.
The 2017-18 water year, which runs annually from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, reflected the highest streamflow recharge levels in five years and the 16th highest recharge amounts since the District started recording measurements 105 years ago.
Well over 70 percent of the water used in the upper watershed is groundwater, and since 1912, the SBVWCD has conserved more than one million acre feet or 326 billion gallons of water by diverting the natural flow of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek into 71 percolation basins that allow the water to collect and seep naturally into the ground, where it can be pumped out for future use.
“This was an excellent year for water recharge,” said SBVWCD General Manager Daniel Cozad. “The 16 billion gallons recharged this water year was enough to provide 94 percent of the demand for the nearly 392,000 people living in Redlands, Highland and San Bernardino.”
Cozad credited the higher recharge levels to a combination of near-average local rainfall, coupled with cooperation from San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, which contributed record levels of State Project Water used by the cities of San Bernardino, Redlands, Highland, Loma Linda and the East Valley Water District into SBVWD’s recharge facilities on Mill Creek and the Santa Ana River. The State Water Project (SWP) recharge totaled 23,181 acre feet, which was nearly as much as the 26,319 acre feet of native streamflow captured, Cozad said.
SBVWCD Board Vice President Melody McDonald said the added recharge from the State Water Project created both challenges and prime opportunities to improve the groundwater basin this year.
“We are grateful to our staff and water partners who worked hard to accommodate the additional recharge,” McDonald said. “Water is our most precious resource, and it was in large part due to their hard work that we were able to capture so much of it this year.”
The 2016-17 water year’s total increased recharge, including SWP water, was 236 percent above average, with streamflow recharge alone at 79 percent above average. This year’s streamflow total was 8,901 acre feet above the previous four years of recharge combined. These increases were critically important given the historic drought that plagued California until it was declared over in spring of this year.
Previous years of substantial streamflow recharge include: 2011 (53,986 acre feet); 2010 (30,565 a/f); 2005 (56,980 a/f); 1998 (55,576 a/f); and 1995 (35,876 a/f). The record year for water recharge in the district was in 1922, when 104,545 acre feet of water was captured in retention ponds where it was allowed to seep underground.
About the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District
The SBVWCD serves an area totaling 50,000 acres within unincorporated San Bernardino County as well as portions of the cities of San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Redlands, and Highland. The water recharged by the District serves 227,580 people in the District who use well water through partner water agencies. In addition, cities and agriculture in Riverside County pump and use water recharged by the District. SBVWCD recharges native river, creek, and State Project water on behalf of its customers and water partners.