REDLANDS, Calif. (October 16, 2023) — Despite alarming predictions for drought in Southern California, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District announced today its highest water recharge record of all time: 85,302-acre feet of water, or 27,795,778,560 gallons. This record-breaking figure is thanks in part to peak levels of rain and snowfall as well as the district’s water capture and storage efforts in local underground aquifers.
The greater Los Angeles region saw its eighth wettest season in 145 years, with the San Bernardino Mountains and other local ranges receiving up to 240 inches of snow. These conditions combined with recent improvements to San Bernardino Valley recharge facilities helped bring in 85,302-acre feet of water, or 27.79 billion gallons.
“In partnership with our hardworking team and collaborators we are proud to announce this water recharge historic accomplishment,” said General Manager Betsy Miller. “We especially want to recognize our partnership with the Groundwater Council. Their brain trust and financial contributions resulted in the recharge of 5,236-acre feet of water in our facilities via the State Water Project.”
The Conservation District’s high-water score is in comparison to when officials began keeping records in 1912. The figure includes “in-stream recharge” which is water that naturally recharges as it flows through the creeks and rivers locally. Miller notes that in-steam recharge was not included in the Conservation District’s 1923 high total of 80,065-acre feet.
Since 1912, the SBVWCD has conserved more than 1.39-million-acre feet or 452.93-billion gallons of water 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.
Miller credits the historic capture to several projects and partnerships including:
- 2023: Ongoing improvements to Mill Creek, with a new phase of Enhanced Recharge Project facilities in construction along the Santa Ana River, in partnership with the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and other partners.
- 2020-2022: Establishment of the Plunge Creek Conservation Project, which restored the creek back to a naturally braided stream to significantly improve groundwater storage while increasing habitat for the endangered San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat and other sensitive species and created 11.7 acres of new wetted area to recharge the aquifer, including 2.3 acres of constructed channels and 9.4 acres of new recharge areas formed from flows.
- 2020: Approval of the Upper Santa Ana River Wash Habitat Conservation Plan, which manages land uses within the wash to protect groundwater replenishment, native habitat for threatened species, along with industry and recreational uses for the community.
- 2019: Completion of Phase 1 of an Enhanced Recharge Project, designed and built by San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District to capture and recharge storm water under the eventual ownership and management of the Conservation District.
- 2018: The formation of the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council, which encourages collaboration among agencies to manage water levels within the local basin.
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 www.sbvwcd.org.