Local water supply resiliency

Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas, Marine veteran and former general manager of Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District in Escondido, is the new general manager of Elsinore Valley Municipal Water district. Courtesy photo

Greg Thomas

Special to the Valley News

One of the most important things we can do as your water supplier is ensure our region has a diverse, resilient supply of water sources. At any given time, drought, water quality issues, infrastructure challenges, new regulatory constraints – and more, can limit any one supply. It‘s in the best interest of our ratepayers to make sure we aren’t completely dependent on one source. Which is why Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District works tirelessly to shore up our local water supplies, invest in new technologies to treat our water and urge our state and federal leaders to increase the reliability of our imported supplies. Simply put, we do everything in our power to ensure clean and reliable supplies.

We need our state and federal leaders to take meaningful action to ensure we can maximize water resources when they are abundant. Reliable access to safe, clean drinking water too often gets caught up in politics and bureaucracy. There are times when water is in fact plentiful, but California does not have the modern infrastructure or regulatory environment to do so to capture and store it. It is why we need the state to invest in new storage and conveyance projects to allow us to capture water when it’s available and save it for dry years. EVMWD is part of the Solve the Water Crisis Coalition, expanding education about this important issue to legislators, businesses/chambers, local governments and community groups.

It does not mean neglecting the environment, but we need leadership to advance smart policies that do both – ensure access to clean, reliable water while protecting environmental health. With 65% of EVMWD’s water supplies coming from imported water sources, these statewide changes are essential for our region.

While we continue to urge state leadership to make these critical investments, EVMWD and its customers are certainly doing their part here in our region.

We are advancing the Canyon Lake Water Treatment Plant upgrade project, which will assist EVMWD in modernizing the plant and the processes so it can treat water affected by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and resume operations. Currently, the treatment plant is offline until upgrades are made to restore water quality. To support this effort and offset the costs to our customers, we secured $780,000 in federal relief funds and are looking for more federal assistance.

We protect and support our groundwater basin, which provides approximately 25% of the district’s drinking water supplies. EVMWD staff continually tests and monitors the levels and quality of water in our basin to ensure it’s healthy and sustainable. Just last year, EVMWD finalized its Groundwater Sustainability Plan to ensure this resource will continue to support our region for years to come.

We are working with several neighboring water agencies to investigate and develop regional projects that can increase reliability for many and help reduce imported demands. This research is above our own long-term plans and efforts to increase local supplies an additional 10-20% through innovation and advanced water treatments, which will be more drought resilient and continue to support the growth of the local economy and communities.

And finally, our customers have stepped up to the plate to reduce their water use. In fact, conservation is simply a way of life here. Since 2013, the population in EVMWD’s service area has increased by 8%; however, our overall water consumption has dropped by 6% – demonstrating the effectiveness of customers’ water efficiency efforts. And in this current drought, water use dropped even further to help meet local and state conservation goals.

As changing climatic conditions and water scarcity become the new norm, EVMWD will continue to invest in the future of our communities by securing resilient water supplies for our customers. It is our mission.

Greg Thomas is the general manager of Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District.