Water delivery agreement between EVMWD and LEAPS project ended years of litigation and defined roles

Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

Greg Thomas, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District

As the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage, or LEAPS, hydroelectric project proceeds with licensing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, local roles have been defined with a water delivery agreement following years of litigation over project details.

With recent community workshops and new information disseminated, it is important that accurate information be provided to the public. EVMWD is not a partner in LEAPS. Under a 2018 agreement to settle ongoing litigation between EVMWD and Nevada Hydro, the project’s proponent, Nevada Hydro would be able to deposit imported water into Lake Elsinore for its operations. Nevada Hydro will be responsible for the costs of securing and delivering this additional water and the district would convey it through our distribution system should the LEAPS project receive federal licensing approval.

As with all California water districts, EVMWD is dedicated to more than just providing safe, reliable water to your taps. We are tasked with balancing the use, preservation and ensuring supplies are there to sustain future generations.

EVMWD is proud to lead the region in responsibly and sustainably managing our water resources. The steps we take now to protect, preserve and expand our supply will benefit our region, and California’s water landscape, for years to come.

At EVMWD, we are known for our innovative accomplishments and using new technology and creative methods to support these efforts – from cutting-edge conservation programs to leading recycled water production. Every decision we make, including long-term planning, infrastructure upgrades, design of customer programs and rate-setting factors in the requirement that we think ahead and safeguard our supplies.

We have invested millions of dollars to safeguard and expand water resources, maintain over 700 miles of pipes, associated pumps and other system components, as well as increase sewer capacity and drought resilience. These investments are funded with support from customers, developers and grants pursued by EVMWD and continue to promote a healthy and vibrant local economy and quality of life.

EVMWD carefully evaluates every large-scale development proposed within our service area, making sure a 20-year water supply is in place – even during drought scenarios. It is required by state law, and projects that don’t meet this standard must adapt by finding additional water supplies, reducing project size or otherwise altering their plans. A project must have a “will-serve” letter from the district before it can proceed.

This level of scrutiny is essential for the district and its customers, working with our stakeholders and partners to balance growth with water supply and sewer capacity.

Recent examples of this include the recent homes built in Canyon Hills, Summerly and Wildomar areas, which developers purchased system capacity to ensure water for incoming families and the Santa Rosa Water Reclamation Facility rehabilitation project, which came after forming a joint powers authority with Western Municipal Water District in Riverside and Rancho California Water District in Temecula, which improved sewer service to customers in that area.

The district is sometimes asked to convey water as part of projects, such as is the case with the LEAPS project. EVMWD will deliver the water through our pipelines to Lake Elsinore. Like other new projects brought to our community, EVMWD customers will not pay for any portion of the project.

EVMWD is here to serve the water needs of our community over the long term, and we work to balance meeting multiple demands while preserving and protecting our water supply, reducing dependence on imported water and forward planning to ensure a sustainable water future.

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