Two desert agencies import 200,000-plus acre-feet of imported water to replenish aquifer

By on September 2, 2017

A joint effort by Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA) have allowed the two agencies to import more than 200,000 acre-feet of water to replenish the aquifer for use by Coachella Valley businesses and residents. The agencies anticipate being able to put even more water aside for aquifer replenishment later this year.

As State Water Contractors, CVWD and DWA import water for replenishment at two facilities in the western end of the Coachella Valley. The two agencies’ combined State Water Project water allocation is 194,100 acre-feet, though the final amount varies each year based on water availability, environmental restrictions and advance deliveries.

In addition to water received from the SWP, the Coachella Valley Water District also imports water from the Colorado River for groundwater replenishment in the eastern Coachella Valley. CVWD is also working to establish a replenishment site in the middle of the Coachella Valley.

“Thanks to the wet winter in California, we are expecting to import more than 300,000 acre-feet of water this year for replenishment in the west valley, which will have a positive impact on our long-term water management efforts at combating aquifer overdraft,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett.

CVWD began capturing and replenishing snowmelt at Whitewater, between North Palm Springs and Cabazon, as early as 1918. CVWD and DWA became SWP contractors in the 1960s and began importing water for replenishment in 1973. Both agencies are public agencies. DWA represents a 325-square mile area; CVWD serve approximately 1,000-square miles.

Groundwater replenishment is a key component of the Coachella Valley’s water management efforts. Along with conservation, increased use of recycled water and imported Colorado River water, the replenishment is used for both agriculture and golf course irrigation. Thus far in 2017, more than 3.5 million acre-feet – the equivalent to a trillion gallons of water – have been returned to the aquifer at the three replenishment facilities in the Coachella Valley.

“Ending 2017 with a positive balance of water will put us closer to eliminating overdraft long term valley wide,” said Mark Krause, Desert Water Agency general manager. “Both replenishment and conservation from our communities have helped lead us down a more sustainable path.”