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GROUNDWATER AWARENESS WEEK 100-Year Record-Breaking Water Capture Year

San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District 2023 Groundwater Achievement

REDLANDS, Calif. (March 11, 2024) — To celebrate Groundwater Week and California’s recent atmospheric rivers dumping inches on the southland, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District announced its final groundwater recharge tally for 2023 which was a record-breaking water year.

“The district soundly surpassed our 100-year water recharge record from the year 1923 when we had recharged 84,981-acre feet (AF) of water,” says Betsy Miller Vixie, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District’s General Manager. “In 2023, we totaled 87,914 AF of water collected in the district’s basin, which includes 15,513 AF from the State Water Project.” Miller Vixie adds that this figure does not include water that naturally recharges within the river system on District-owned land. According to data going back to 1912, this is the district’s best yield for the recorded history of 111 years.

Since 1912, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District has conserved more than 1.41-million-acre feet by diverting the natural flow of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek into 71 percolation basins. This allow the water to collect and seep naturally into the ground, where it can be pumped out for future use.

According to the district’s engineers, February 2024’s atmospheric rivers have already resulted in more than 2.13 billion gallons of stormwater captured for groundwater recharge. The recharging of San Bernardino’s Bunker Hill Basin aquifer was significant, but only a drop in the bucket compared to the or 459.5-billion gallons of water the district collected since 1912.

The water captured and stored from February’s storms is enough to handle the indoor use needs of 117,000 Inland Empire residents for a year. The work making this possible was completed at the cost of $98,000 – or less than $1 per, person per year. Combined with recycled and imported water, this type of active stewardship of local groundwater supplies a critical piece of San Bernardino’s regional water reliability strategy.

Looking to 2024, existing facilities have been augmented by the newly built Santa Ana River Enhanced Recharge Project basins on district property, which began capturing stormwater on January 7. This collaborative joint-agency project, led by the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, will increase capacity for recharge into the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin by an additional 80,000-acre feet each year.

About the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District:
For nearly a century, the SBVWCD has stewarded the San Bernardino Valley water basin and the native species of the Upper Santa Ana River Wash. Its collaborative approach to project management assures high-quality local water supplies for people, agriculture, and the environment. This includes groundwater recharge and oversight, and protection of habitat and native species in the Wash. Visit