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Despite rains, need for conservation remains

Southern California has had an exceptional winter this year, but it’s not enough to erase the effects of 20 years of drought, which have left local groundwater basins at historic lows, according to local water agency officials.

“While rain in our area is slightly above average for 2019, it takes a lot more than one rainy season to erase over 20 years of below average rainfall,” said T. Milford Harrison, president of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District.

“We need several more winters like the one we are having to erase our accumulated groundwater deficit. We need to continue the focus on water conservation,” he said, adding, “Media reports that proclaim the end to the drought without explaining the realities of our groundwater situation are providing people with a false sense of security.

While Valley District imports as much water as it can from Northern California to replenish the local groundwater basin, the San Bernardino-based agency has not been able to import as much as it would like during the past decade because the ongoing drought and environmental issues in the Delta have combined to reduce the amount of water available through the State Water Project.

Valley District plans to issue an update of the latest statistics involving the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin Area on May 23, 2019, at its Enhanced Recharge Project Dedication event.

Valley District is a State Water Project Contractor and regional water manager for 14 retail water agencies spanning from Fontana to Yucaipa and serving over 700,000 people. The region served by Valley District primarily depends on local rainfall to meet water needs and imports water to fill the gap when the rainfall is lacking. In fact, local rainfall has been trending below average since 1998.

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