Seeking change as Coachella Valley water rates rise

The Coachella Valley receives an average rainfall of 3.5 inches per year. When the so-called “California Drought” is over, we will still be living in a drought. Management (conservation and replenishment) of existing underground water supplies is critical for the Coachella Valley. Both Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA) have been working to preserve and recharge the underground aquifer.

Natural turf requires irrigation water. Natural turf makes the Coachella Valley economic engine operate – 12.8 million visitors came to the valley in 2015 and spent $5 billion. They come to enjoy the sunshine, green grass, colorful flowers and play golf.

Making natural turf cost prohibitive could lead to decrease in property values throughout the valley. We must examine options to keep our valley naturally green.

The drought and required conservation was the first piece to the increased water rates puzzle; the latest is mandatory chromium-6 standards. The federal EPA standard for chromium-6 in drinking water is 100 parts per billion (ppb). In 2014, the state of California reduced the chromium-6 drinking water standard limit to 10 ppb. To put this in perspective, one part per billion is roughly equivalent to one single drop of water in an Olympic size swimming pool.

This was implemented by the State Water Board and Gov. Jerry Brown with the approval of the California Legislature. There is no proven scientific evidence to indicate the federal EPA standard needed to be lowered. Chromium-6 is naturally found in groundwater in the Coachella Valley. This should not be confused with chromium-6 introduced into the aquifer by PG&E near Hinkley as industrial waste in the “Erin Brockovich” movie.

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