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California Department of Water Resources Report on Yucca Valley

By   /   February 16, 2014  /   1 Comment

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I have many documents to share with readers to help shed light on the sewer prohibition placed on the “individual” septic tank owners.  The Hi-Desert Water District is anticipating rolling out the sewer assessment figures in March or April but I won’t hold my breath.  In the meantime, I will begin post important documents pertaining to the project.

Groundwater Basin Description

The Town of Yucca Valley’s sole source of water supply is groundwater. Up to 85% of groundwater extracted for potable use comes from the Warren Subbasin (hereafter referred to as the “Basin”) located within the Town of Yucca Valley. The 19-square-Basin is about 25 mi north of Palm Springs and 100 mi east of Los Angeles in the southwestern part of the Mojave Desert in southern California and is part of the Morongo ground-water basin (fig. 1). The principal population center in the Basin is the Town of Yucca Valley. The Basin is bounded on the north by the San Bernardino Mountains and the Pinto Mountain Fault, on the south by the Little San Bernardino Mountains, on the west by a natural topographic and ground-water divide, and on the east by a series of faults that make up the Yucca barrier [which was initially defined by water-level differences on either side of the barrier of as much as 400 ft (Lewis, 1972)].

Data collected for this study indicate that the areal extent of the water-bearing deposits is much smaller (about 5.5 mi2 versus 19 mi2) than that of the Basin in its entirety. Faults separate the Basin into five hydrogeologic units (HGU); the west, mid-west, mid-east, east and north-east HGU’s (fig 1).

The climate of the area, typical of the southern Mojave Desert, is characterized by sunny days, low rainfall, hot summers, and relatively cool winters. The average annual precipitation at Yucca Valley is about 6.75 in. (Lewis, 1972). Most of this precipitation is lost through evaporation; the total average monthly evapotranspiration rate of a high desert valley is 66.5 in./yr (California Irrigation Management Information System, 2002).

Groundwater Management

The source of natural recharge is runoff from the mountains on the north side of the subbasin and equals 83 acre-feet per year (Nishikawa and others, USGS, 2003). During the 1970’s, three (3) major producers extracted water from within the Warren Subbasin that included two (2) public water purveyors and one (1) golf course identified as Hi-Desert Water District, Yucca Water Company Ltd., and Blue Skies Country Club respectively. Due to the overdraft conditions that existed, Hi-Desert Water District entered into a lawsuit against Yucca Valley Company Ltd. in an effort to adjudicate the Basin. On September 16, 1977, by judgment of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Bernardino, the District, through its Board of Directors was appointed by the Court as Watermaster for the Subbasin to administer the provisions of the Judgment which included overseeing the protection and monitoring of the Basin. Furthermore, the Watermaster (District) was directed to formulate a proposal for a physical solution to the continuing overdraft of the Basin. The Watermaster created a set of rules and regulations to ensure sufficient monitoring of the Basin was conducted by all major producers which includes verbiage that addresses the collection of data such as water surface elevations, water quality analysis, and metered extractions. The data collected throughout the water year (Oct. 1 – Sept. 30) is then compiled into a report to identify the success of basin management strategies.

The imbalance between natural recharge and pumpage caused groundwater levels in the Basin to decline by as much as 300 feet from the late 1940s through 1994. In response, HDWD instituted an artificial recharge program in February 1995 utilizing imported State Water Project (SWP) water delivered by the District’s State water wholesaler Mojave Water Agency (MWA).  The agreement entered into between the District and MWA served as the physical solution to the Basin’s overdraft conditions and supplied an allocation of 4,282 AF per year.  The artificial recharge program resulted in water-level recoveries of as much as 250 feet in the vicinity of the recharge ponds between February 1995 and December 2001; however, nitrate concentrations in some wells also increased from a background concentration of 10 milligrams per liter to more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 44 milligrams per liter (10 milligrams per liter as nitrogen).

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

1 Comment

  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Interesting Read.

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