The Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors on Friday cast the final vote necessary to establish the Fenner Valley Water Authority, which will control and operate the facilities necessary to deliver drinking water from the eastern Mojave Desert to Southern California customers as part of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project.
Cadiz Inc., the private company that will build the infrastructure to deliver the water from a desert aquifer in the Mojave Desert’s Fenner Valley, and the Fenner Valley Mutual Water Co., which is comprised of water providers participating in the Project, are also members of the FVWA, a joint-powers authority. SMWD will be the managing partner in the authority.
SMWD was the lead agency during the environmental review for the Project, which will create a new Southern California water supply by managing a groundwater basin in a 1,300-square-mile watershed in eastern San Bernardino County to collect. The water from the aquifer would otherwise evaporate.
An Orange County Superior Court judge in September upheld the validity of the environmental studies, approved by SMWD in July 2012. The San Bernardino Board of Supervisors approved the Project in October 2012.
SMWD will purchase at least 5,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Cadiz Project, which represents approximately 20 percent of the District’s overall water supply. Additional California water retailers and agricultural interests are also participating in the Project.
Project water would be conveyed to SMWD and other participating water providers through a 43?mile pipeline connecting to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which delivers water to customers of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. MWD supplies water to SMWD and many other local water districts.
The pipeline will be buried beneath an active railroad right?of?way to avoid any impact on natural resources.
Once built, Cadiz will lease the Project facilities to the FVWA and SMWD, in its role as the managing agency of the FVWA, will retain control over day-to-day operation of the well field, and ensuring the Project complies with the approved groundwater management plan that will be enforced by San Bernardino County.
The documents approved by SMWD on Friday specify that the FVWA Board of Directors will be composed of elected officials of the participating agencies, with the SMWD appointing two members and two alternates and Fenner Mutual appointing a third member. The documents also establish the SMWD General Manager or his appointee will be Executive Director of the FVWA and the SMWD Treasurer will be FVWA Treasurer.
SMWD Directors said Friday that the JPA is an important next step forward in the Project’s implementation and allows necessary planning and engineering tasks to move ahead.