Imagine a day without water

Philip E. Paule is the vice president of the Eastern Municipal Water District board. Courtesy photo

As Southern Californians, everyone knows not to take water for granted.

Despite unusually heavy rains during the past year, residents are acutely aware that recurring droughts, dependence on imported water and climate variation all affect the availability of water locally and throughout the state.

Water agencies across California collectively spend billions to upgrade infrastructure and invest in new water projects to ensure reliable long-term water supplies, delivery and storage. While Southern Californians appreciate the work that’s needed to provide a consistent water supply, most people carry on with their busy lives as long as water comes out of the taps. Because water pipelines are out of sight, they are also mostly out of mind.

But try to imagine for a moment a day when water didn’t just flow from the faucets.

That’s the vision behind the fifth annual nationwide “Imagine A Day Without Water” event set for Wednesday, Oct. 23, by The Value of Water Campaign. This day of action reminds residents just how much they depend on water in their everyday lives, and what it would be like if instantaneous access to water suddenly vanished.

People’s ability to enjoy a glass of water, bathe, flush their toilets, cook, irrigate their lawns and many other daily activities all rely on complex water and wastewater systems that store and transport the water they need and the water they use.

The communities served by Eastern Municipal Water District depend on local water services each and every day. EMWD, formed in 1950, took action in 1951 to join the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California so that the water district also had access to imported water supplies to supplement local groundwater resources. EMWD has always worked to protect the local groundwater – the lowest cost supply – to help meet the needs of residential, commercial and agricultural customers.

EMWD recycles 100% of its wastewater for sustainable reuse for irrigation, agricultural and industrial purposes, which makes the water district less dependent on imported water and reduces demand on local groundwater supplies. EMWD’s water use efficiency program encourages customers to conserve as much water as possible, and its healthy sewers program helps ensure wastewater can be recycled and reused. These programs are part of EMWD’s commitment to maintain a reliable water future for residents, businesses and the thriving agricultural industry it serves.

Collectively, these programs are part of an overarching EMWD initiative called Groundwater Reliability Plus, an ongoing effort that has improved the quality and quantity of water in local groundwater basins, even during recent droughts.

Groundwater Reliability Plus also includes a groundwater replenishment project called water banking, which helps replenish the San Jacinto Groundwater Basin by storing water during normal and wet years for future use. EMWD is constructing new groundwater banking facilities including percolation basins, pipelines and production wells. Purified Water Replenishment is another important future project to expand the quantity of groundwater by purifying recycled water through a proven multi-stage process of microfiltration and reverse osmosis. The purified water is blended with recycled water and pumped into replenishment ponds. As that water seeps into the ground, it will be further purified through a natural filtration process before being pumped and cleaned a final time before being sent to homes and businesses.

As the community takes time to ponder how it would cope with a day without water, residents can rest assured that EMWD remains focused on the future as the water district continues to invest in environmentally sustainable projects to benefit customers and ensure long-term local water reliability.

Philip E. Paule

EMWD Board Vice President