The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) Board of Directors on Jan. 26 approved a one-year extension of its 50-year lease with Riverside County for the use of Lake Cahuilla Veterans Memorial Park in La Quinta.
As the terminus of the Coachella Canal, the lake has provided water service to farms in the East Valley as well as recreation opportunities.
County Parks is also working with the Bureau of Reclamation for an extension of a lease for use of the lake, which is owned by the Bureau.
“Lake Cahuilla is important to the Coachella Valley for so many reasons,” said Board Vice President Castulo Estrada. “Many may not know that it is a vital water distribution facility for East Valley agriculture, and because of that, we have to work together to ensure we can meet the water service needs and recreational needs of our community on this issue.”
Ongoing discussions over renewing the lease have centered on protecting the lake from quagga mussels, an invasive species that could clog CVWD pipelines and cause millions of dollars in damage to pipelines and downstream farmland.
“I am confident that with the experts we have involved in this matter we are going to find a solution that addresses everyone’s concerns,” Estrada continued.
At the suggestion of Board President John Powell and Director Anthony Bianco, the board’s approval directs the County to install signs that prohibit boating and swimming and to give all visitors educational materials about quagga mussels.
The lake attracts 100,000 people a year and 10,000 people fish there every year, said Kyla Brown, General Manager/Parks Director Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Space District. In addition, the site offers 96 campsites and hosts triathlons, music festivals, fishing derbies and clinics, hiking and picnicking.