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San Bernardino County Water Conference addresses the new norm of regional water resources
The 8th Annual San Bernardino County Water Conference was held today at Cal State San Bernardino where government officials, water experts, business leaders and the community discussed opportunities to overcome California’s water challenges.
The Countywide Vision’s Water Element Group is working on a comprehensive strategy for water management that encourages collaboration among business, residents, municipal governments, and water agencies to ensure adequate water supplies and quality to support future population and economic growth within the County. The water needs of county residents and businesses can be met through 2035, but only if water users step up conservation efforts and the whole community is willing to invest in projects that will store and protect additional water supplies.
At today’s conference, the Water Element Group facilitated a discussion about coordinating land use and water planning.
During the past year, the leaders of the Water Element Group have met with County and city managers and County and city planning directors to discuss how they can work together to ensure there is a sufficient, sustainable water supply to accommodate expected population and economic growth. They are improving their common understanding of current water resource realities, such as identifying gaps in infrastructure needed to move water to residents and businesses throughout the county. And, they are aiming to make the county more business friendly by preparing to collaborate regionally on the upcoming 2015 Urban Water Management Plans to ensure they are more closely linked to County and city general plans.
For the Water Conference, the Water Element Group and the city managers recruited a diverse set of professionals to talk about the benefits of collaboration among municipalities, water agencies and developers.
Coordinating Land Use and Water Panel:
Moderator: Paeter Garcia, Partner, Best Best & Kreiger
• Doug Headrick, General Manager, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District
• Mike Podegracz, City Manager, City of Hesperia
• Ray Casey, City Manager, City of Yucaipa
• Joe Zoba, General Manager, Yucaipa Valley Water District
• Terry Kent, President, Building Industry Aassociation Baldy View Chapter and Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Crestwood Communities
The panelists provided many great examples of the benefits of collaboration, including the following:
• When the City of Yucaipa began to conceptually design the Oak Glen and Wildwood Creek detention basins to improve flood protection and address stormwater quality in the city, officials also saw an opportunity to improve the sustainability of the groundwater basin through active and passive recharge. The City sought input from the flood control district, water agencies and resource conservation district to complete balanced designs for the two projects that provide multiple benefits. Both basins were constructed with diversified funding from City accounts, federal and state grants and contributions from the flood control district, water agencies, resource conservation district and developers.
• San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District and the retail water agencies within its service area were able to successfully combine the efficiencies of a regional urban water management plan with the flexibility of an individualized plan. The first chapters of the 2010 San Bernardino Valley Regional Urban Water Management Plan are not unlike many other regional urban water management plans, providing an overview of regional water supplies and demands. What makes this plan unique, is that there is no “one size fits all” approach to achieving state mandated water use reductions for the region. Instead, each participating water agency was given the freedom, through its own chapter in the plan, to provide its personalized approach toward meeting its water conservation targets. This innovative approach to urban water management planning was praised by both the California Department of Water Resources and the participating water agencies.
Following the Water Conference, the Water Element Group and city managers plan to partner with the Building Industry Association to host a workshop about coordinating regional Urban Water Management Plans for representatives of municipalities, water agencies and developers. It is expected this workshop will be held next year once the State issues guidelines for the 2015 Urban Water Management Plans.