What We Do

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San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) was formed in 1954 as a regional agency to plan a long-range water supply for the San Bernardino Valley. It imports water into its service area through participation in the State Water Project (SWP) and manages groundwater storage within its boundaries. It was incorporated under the Municipal Water District Act of 1911 (California Water Code Section 71000 et seq., as amended). Its enabling act includes a broad range of powers to provide water, as well as wastewater and storm water disposal, recreation, and fire protection services. Valley District does not deliver water directly to retail water customers.

Valley District covers about 353 square miles in southwestern San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and has a population of about 695,000. It spans the eastern two-thirds of the San Bernardino Valley, the Crafton Hills, and a portion of the Yucaipa Valley and includes the cities and communities of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda, Redlands, Rialto, Bloomington, Highland, East Highland, Mentone, Grand Terrace, and Yucaipa. 

Valley District is responsible for long-range water supply management, including importing supplemental water, and is responsible for most of the groundwater basins within its boundaries and for groundwater extraction over the amount specified in the judgments. It has specific responsibilities for monitoring groundwater supplies in the San Bernardino and Colton-Rialto basins and maintaining flows at the Riverside Narrows on the Santa Ana River. It fulfills its responsibilities in a variety of ways, including importing water through the SWP for direct delivery and groundwater recharge and by coordinating water deliveries to retail agencies throughout its service area.
Valley District receives delivery of SWP water at the Devil Canyon Power Plant Afterbay, which is located just within its northern boundary. Water is conveyed 17 miles eastward to various spreading grounds, agricultural, and wholesale domestic delivery points in the San Bernardino basin. Water is also conveyed westward for direct delivery and recharge in the Colton-Rialto basin. In the 1960s, the over commitment of water in the Santa Ana River watershed led to lawsuits between water users in the upper and lower watersheds regarding the use of both surface flows and groundwater. The lawsuits culminated in 1969 in Orange County and Western judgments.  Under the terms of the settlements, Valley District became responsible for providing a specified Santa Ana River base flow to Orange County and maintaining the safe yield in the San Bernardino Basin Area and water levels in certain specified key wells in the Colton Basin Area and Riverside Basin Area in San Bernardino County. If the conditions of either judgment are not met by the natural water supply, Valley District is required to deliver supplemental water to offset the deficiency. The judgments resolved the major water rights issues that had prevented the development of long-term, region-wide water supply plans and established specific objectives for the management of the groundwater basins.

Valley District is legally required to maintain a flow equivalent to approximately 15,250 acre-feet per year at the Riverside Narrows on the Santa Ana River (SAR). This requirement is currently met with about 25,000 acre-feet per year of treated wastewater from the Cities of San Bernardino, Colton, and Rialto that is discharged to the SAR. Valley District has contracts with the Cities of San Bernardino and Colton that obligate their treated wastewater flows to meet this requirement. As a result of this recycled water discharge and normal stream flow in the SAR, Valley District has never had to use imported water to augment flows in the SAR. Valley District has provided water at Riverside Narrows in amounts greater than its obligation and has accumulated a "credit" for the excess amounts during prior years.  It could, if needed, use these water credits to meet a portion of its legal obligation during dry years, subject to the minimum annual flow of 12,420 acre-feet at the Riverside Narrows.