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Old 10-29-2009, 10:12 AM
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Default Ensuring region's water supply

Ensuring region's water supply

Quote:

Supervisors Gary Ovitt and Paul Biane
10/17/2009

At the next meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, we plan to bring a resolution to establish a Storm Water Task Force. The purpose of this task force is as simple as it is important.

We want to ensure that our county's flood control operations combine the historical flood control model of capturing storm water and moving it away from populated areas with a new model designed to increase local water supplies, improve water quality, and help minimize the need to purchase an increasingly costly commodity - imported water.

Let us explain our plan and our reasons for it.

Historically, flood control had one purpose - to protect residents from floods and runoff by directing storm water to flood control channels and safely sending water downstream to the Santa Ana River and the Pacific Ocean. In 2006, more than 600,000 acre feet of storm water flowed from our county to the ocean.

Our county has successfully controlled storm water by redirecting it to channels that send it rushing toward the coast.

In recent years, we have not experienced damaging floods similar to what occurred in 1969 when massive amounts of storm runoff devastated communities. While directing floodwater into channels made sense when water was inexpensive and available, now we need to think outside the flood control box and develop a different model.

We need to combine what we currently do very well with a model that captures floodwater and keeps
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it in our community. Why is this necessary? Well, that 600,000 acre feet of water we sent to the ocean in 2006 was enough to supply the needs of 1.5 million San Bernardino County households for a full year.

And with water prices signaling a continued climb for years to come, common sense says we must do a better job of keeping our local water local.

Working with three Chino Basin water agencies, San Bernardino County reached a four-party agreement in 2002.

Its purpose was to find better ways to reduce dependence on imported water, provide a local drought-proof water supply, and improve groundwater quality.

That agreement proved that a cooperative effort benefits the entire community. Since 2002, a local investment of $25 million (matched with federal grants) has helped recharge more than 111,000 acre feet of water into the Chino Basin.

This captured water has a present value of $60 million and is available to meet the needs of more than 250,000 West Valley families.

This investment will pay returns each and every year as it continues to help recharge water into our basin. It is also interesting to note that this large volume of water was captured and recharged into our basin during a period of drought.

The Task Force we have proposed will include representatives from San Bernardino County, the city of Ontario, the city of Rancho Cucamonga, West Valley Water District, Chino Basin Water Master, Chino Water Conservation District and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency.

The group will work together to develop a fully integrated storm water management system. This system, combined with the best practices of water conservation, will increase local water supply, improve our water quality, and reduce long-term cost increases for an increasingly scarce, yet vital, commodity.

The Task Force's first assignment will be to examine the current configuration of the Turner Basin, which sits on the border of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga, and recommend a plan to fully utilize the basin.

The plan will detail how we can capture storm water from the Cucamonga and Deer Creek channels in the Turner Basin.

The plan will also discuss how we can construct and maintain a wetlands area within the basin to naturally purify runoff while also providing habitat for plants and animals. Finally, the plan will spell out how we can utilize this treated storm water to recharge the underground aquifer.

This is just the first step. We also want the task force to recommend recreational and educational uses for the basin, such as walking trails and signage that allow residents to learn about water conservation, wetlands biology and flood control systems.

In addition, the basin would feature California-friendly landscaping and architectural features to complement and enhance Archibald Avenue - a gateway to Ontario International Airport and the city of Rancho Cucamonga.

By working together, we can beautify this basin and utilize it more fully while also creating a model that can be used countywide for the long-term benefit of all county residents.

Supervisor Gary Ovitt is chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and represents the 4th District, which includes Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair and Ontario. Supervisor Paul Biane represents the 2nd District, which includes Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, San Antonio Heights, most of Fontana and mountain communities from Mt. Baldy to Crestline and Lake Gregory.
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