Like many Valley residents, I have come to realize that there is a lot I don’t know about water use in here in the Coachella Valley that I should know. Are my HOA’s water bills destined to keep going up and up endlessly? Is spending money on turf conversion worthwhile and, if so, how do we determine where best to do it? Who do we talk to about rebates? Are we using recycled water in the valley?

Will a continued drought affect our home values or the viability of our golf course?

Or I should say, there WAS a lot I didn’t know.

I was fortunate to have noticed and then to join the inaugural class of the “CV Water Counts Academy” two years ago. How could I not? On offer were 3 well designed 2-hour training sessions to be held in the late afternoon over 3 weeks at the UCR Riverside campus – with dinner thrown in – with a follow-up all day bus tour to at the end to tie together much of what we learned. Put on by the collaborative efforts of our 6 valley water management agencies, and all for free.

My particular objective as a member of my HOA’s landscape committee was to learn more about what our HOA could do to lower water bills, what plants we should be planting, and how to prevent further mortalities of our trees in where we had converted our turf to drip and desert landscaping.

What I achieved was that knowledge, and so very much more. The quality of the tutorials was superb, and they were all clearly presented and well-illustrated with handouts, by the valley’s top experts.

The first session introduced us to a historical overview of our water agreements and pending issues that will our water bills from the Oroville dam risks to planned expansion of the State Water project in Northern California. We learned about the 6 valley water agencies: their history, boundaries, rebates and their contacts. That in itself has proved invaluable to me. The session continued with presentations on smart irrigation technologies presently and future to save water. Detailed handouts ensured that we would have great references to refer back to later.

In the second and third sessions I learned about the aquifer: how we store it (below ground), measure it (US Geological Service), how we test its water quality including Chromium 6, and its current status (50 years supply and growing) thanks in part to the new recharge facility in La Quinta. Agriculture, golf courses and water recycling: we were given all the latest information by the experts. Topped off by a fun and fascinating Saturday bus tour to the Whitewater recharge ponds, a wastewater treatment site, and a grape operation highlighting our pioneering use of radio telemetry to control irrigation valves.

What a fantastic opportunity I had! The CV Water Counts Academy was a masterpiece of presentation and is not to be missed. Thank you, valley water agencies. Extremely well done.

Sue B., Graduate, 2017 Water Counts Academy