Member Case Study – April 2019

  • by Will Holbert
  • Apr 26, 2019
  • Newsletters

Half Century of Cooperation and Collaboration Celebrated on Santa Ana River

Current Watermasters and their predecessors joined together in an April 12 celebration of 50 years of successful collaboration within the Santa Ana River Watershed. (l-r) Doug Headrick, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD) Watermaster (current); Robert Reiter, former SBVMWD Watermaster; Roy Herndon, Orange County Water District (OCWD) Watermaster (current); Don Harriger, former Western Municipal Water District Watermaster; Samuel Fuller, former SBVMWD Watermaster; William Mills, Jr., former OCWD Watermaster; Michael R. Markus, OCWD Watermaster (current); Shivaji Deshmukh, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Watermaster (current); and Bill Dendy, former OCWD Watermaster.

In Riverside County, right along the Santa Ana River, local leaders and community members recently came together to commemorate 50 years of peace along the river.  Nearly 100 people on April 12 celebrated two 1969 court judgments for the water rights of the Santa Ana River that are still in place today. 

The Santa Ana River is the largest river in Southern California. It begins in the San Bernardino Mountains and flows downstream to Prado Dam in Riverside County, into Orange County and out into the Pacific Ocean. The river meanders 96 miles through diverse terrain: alpine forest, arid desert, chaparral environments and flat coastal plains.

In 1963, two major lawsuits were filed regarding surface water and groundwater pumping rights across the Santa Ana River Watershed that included more than 4,000 litigants.  One lawsuit was filed by the Western Municipal Water District and the other by the Orange County Water District.  To simplify the process, it was agreed there would be four representative parties: Orange County Water District, Western Municipal Water District, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Inland Empire Utilities Agency (formerly known as the Chino Basin Municipal Water District).  On April 17, 1969, both lawsuits came to an end. 

The Orange County Judgment provides water users in the lower basin rights to receive minimum and average water flows, measured at several locations throughout the region. San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, Western MWD, and IEUA are required to maintain minimum base flow requirements.  A second Judgment (Western-San Bernardino) laid out a framework for dividing water resources in the San Bernardino Basin Area, Colton Basin, and Riverside Basin in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.  

These two judgments became known as the 1969 Settlement and are still in place today.

“There is a lot that goes into ensuring a reliable water supply,” commented Paul Hofer, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Board President. “As a resident within the Santa Ana Watershed, you can rest assured that the water you need every day will get to you because of the decisions and judgments that were put in place 50 years ago.”

The four agencies continue to work together today and are known as the Santa Ana River Watermaster and Western-San Bernardino Watermaster committees. Both committees are required to submit an annual report to the court to demonstrate compliance with the judgments.

“These agencies manage the resources that make our quality of life possible,” commented keynote speaker Congressman Ken Calvert (42nd District). “Water agencies have done important and great work to reduce demand on imported water. But now more than ever we need to fix the California water system, and fix the broken delta conveyance paradigm.” 

The Santa Ana River is the largest river in Southern California. During the early 1960s, lawsuits over surface and groundwater rights included more than 4,000 litigants. A settlement was agreed to in 1969 that remains effective today in managing the Santa Ana River and its watershed through collaboration among local water agencies.

The accomplishments over the last 50 years owe a great deal to the contributions made by the former and current members that have served on the Watermaster committees.  Through multi-agency cooperation in the watershed, these agencies are able to secure water supplies for urban uses while also mitigating environmental impacts. The 1969 Settlement allows flexibility for future changes in hydrology, agency actions, and governance. The original engineers, attorneys, water professionals and other stakeholders anticipated potential future changes and, thus, prepared a document that could be amended.  This flexibility has allowed the Settlement to maintain peace over the last 50 years as well as preparing for peace for the next 50 years.  

At the celebratory event, one of the original members of the Watermaster committees, Don Harriger, submitted comments to be read to attendees. He reflected “Businesses and residents throughout the watershed have benefitted greatly from the peaceful coexistence of water interests and the many water infrastructure improvements in water reliability and water quality that have resulted.”

“Hope springs eternal,” reflected Art Baggett, the master of ceremonies for the event and water law attorney familiar with the 1969 judgment. “Here’s to another 50 years of peace, cooperation, and collaboration on the Santa Ana River.” .

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Overview Presentations: Water Conservation/Water Use Efficiency Laws of 2018 (AB 1668/SB 606) and Implementation Challenges

State Overview by Peter Brostrom, Department of Water Resources (May 2019) Implementations Challenges by David Bolland, ACWA (May 2019) A […]

May 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

COMMENT LETTER: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Proposed Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Subject: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. […]

California H2O: Flowing for the Future

ACWA and J Comm, Inc. have collaborated to create a 10-part video series to educate Californians about critical water issues. […]

Energy and Water Resources Policy Principles

In January 2019, ACWA released policy principles on “Energy and Water Resources” in California. The updated principles will help guide […]

ACWA’s 2019 Spring Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2019 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on May. 7 from 9 a.m. to […]

ACWA Suggested Guidelines for 2019 Triennial Reporting of Public Health Goal Exceedance in Drinking Water

Agency: Public Water Systems and State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water Subject: Suggested Guidelines for Preparation of Required […]

Executive Director Dave Eggerton Congressional Testimony on Western Water Infrastructure

Agency: House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subject: State of Western Water Infrastructure in Innovation Testimony excerpt:  It is critical […]

Coalition Letter Supporting NPDES Permit Legislation

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

March 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program Third Preliminary Draft Regulations

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Safe Drinking Water Trust Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter – OEHHA Draft Report on Human Right to Water

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter – Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program

Agency: California State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Letter excerpt:  […]

2019 Legislative Outreach Toolkit

To assist  members in communicating and engaging with their legislative representatives, ACWA has published a 2019 Legislative Outreach Toolkit. Toolkit […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
New Permit Fosters Sustainable Water Production at Desalination Plant

San Diego regional water quality regulators today issued a permit for the installation of new, technologically advanced and environmentally sensitive […]

New Partnership Nurtures Young Scientists to Care for the American River

Elana, a first grader at Elder Creek Elementary School in Sacramento, dipped the litmus paper into the river as her […]

New Episodes of “California H2O: Flowing for the Future” Available for Use

Three new videos that highlight the innovation and commitment of member agencies are now available for members to use in […]

ACWA Region Election Process Underway for 2020-’21 Term

ACWA’s region election process is underway to determine the boards of each of the 10 regions, including the chair, vice […]

Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees Take Action on Priority Water Bills

With a May 17 deadline for fiscal committees to meet and report to the floor bills introduced in their house, […]

Upper District Announces Winners of the 2019 “Water is Life” Student Art Contest

MONROVIA – Today the Board of Directors for the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (Upper District) honored 20 […]

Senate Proposes New Funding Alternative for Safe Drinking Water Solutions

Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 today rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget trailer bill language that proposes a water tax, instead […]

Board Approves Plan to Better Map Customers’ Irrigable Landscape as Part of Rate Study

The Palmdale Water District (PWD) Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday to hire an aerial mapping company to determine the […]

Water Authority Invites Gov. Newsom to Tour Facilities, Praises Approach to Water Security

Agency offers support: San Diego is proof ‘It can be done’ The San Diego County Water Authority today praised Gov. […]

EMWD Completes Shift to Smart Metering Technology

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) has completed the installation of smart meters at all residential properties within its […]

CalEPA and The Climate Registry Launch Water-Energy Nexus Registry

SACRAMENTO – The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and The Climate Registry recently launched a Water-Energy Nexus Registry for organizations […]

Safe Drinking Water Trust Moves to Senate Appropriations Suspense File

The Senate Appropriations Committee today moved SB 669 (Caballero), the Safe Drinking Water Trust, to its Suspense Calendar. The bill, […]

ACWA Awards Five Undergraduate Scholarships for 2019-’20 Academic Year

ACWA  has awarded $22,000 in 2019-’20 academic year scholarships to five undergraduate students enrolled at California public universities who are […]

Santa Margarita Water District Selected for 2019 Clair A. Hill Agency Award for Excellence

ACWA presented the prestigious 2019 Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for Excellence to the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) […]

Longtime industry pro joins the team at South Coast Water District

South Coast Water District (SCWD) is pleased to announce Mr. Marc Serna recently joined the executive management team at the […]