groundwater ruling

Judge approves groundwater storage increases

Local agencies in the Chino Basin will now have access to an additional six-month supply of groundwater thanks to a ruling in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Judge Stanford Reichert ruled that the Chino Basin Optimum Basin Management Program (OBMP) means water providers in the region can retain use of the stored water in the basin. That supply is estimated to be worth about $50 million and will benefit 1.5 million people in the Inland region.

“Judge Reichert’s decision will result in tremendous advantages for the residents and businesses in our region, particularly as the state confronts another serious drought and groundwater storage takes on added significance,” said Jim Curatalo, Chairman of the Chino Basin Watermaster Board. “The local Chino Basin pumpers stood to lose the banked water, which is enough to serve about 200,000 people for a year.”

Created in 2000, the OBMP designated safe storage capacity at 500,000 acre-feet. In 2017 an addendum increased storage to 600,000 acre-feet, with a deadline of June 30, 2021, to reach a new, long term arrangement.

The new agreement approved by Judge Reichert increases approved storage to 700,000 acre-feet and makes Chino Basin one of the largest groundwater banks in the state. Without approval the agencies would have lost the right to use the excess water they had stored in the basin under the earlier addendum.

“Groundwater is a renewable resource, and still it needs constant care and management, so it doesn’t diminish,” Curatalo said. “This renewed commitment and effort have to begin now to set us on course for the next 20 years.”

The parties will now move forward with crafting an implementation plan. For more information, visit Chino Basin Watermaster.

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