FAQ’s

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The Watermaster is a court-appointed accountant for water rights in the Mojave River Basin. The Watermaster’s main responsibilities include monitoring and verifying water production, collecting assessments, conducting studies and preparing an  annual report of its findings and activities to the court. In October of 1992, the Mojave Water Agency was appointed as the initial Watermaster by the Riverside County Superior Court.

The Mojave Water Agency is the guardian of the High Desert’s water supply, ensuring that there is enough water today and for generations to come. Formed in 1960, the Agency is responsible for managing groundwater resources in the Mojave River  Basin and Morongo Basin, and providing alternate water sources to the region as needed. It is one of 29 State Water Project contractors permitted to deliver water from the California Aqueduct. The MWA is also the entity charged with implementing the adjudication,  a court sanctioned groundwater management system designed to gradually bring water used in balance with the available supply.

: It is uncertain to predict the future of both taxes. Theoretically, MWA Debt-1 will meet its
obligation in the year 2035; however, power costs, repair and replacement costs, new
construction, and other charges could require new bonds to be issued by the State of
California, Department of Water Resources. Each of the 29 State Water Contractors would
be obligated to pay their share of these bonds as part of the contract signed with the State
of California to provide water through the State Water Project.
If you have any further questions, you can call (760) 946-7000 during business hours.

MWA’s legal mandate is very specific, which is: “The agency may do any and every act
necessary to be done so that sufficient water may be available for any present or future
beneficial use or uses of the lands or inhabitants of the agency, including without limiting the
generality of the foregoing, irrigation, domestic, fire protection, municipal, commercial,
industrial and recreational uses.” The Agency’s role is to essentially meet present and future
water demands.

Purification is not necessary. State Water Project (SWP) water is recognized as high quality
water and is used statewide (serving 25 million residents) as a supplemental water source.
Testing has proven the water meets or exceeds all primary and secondary state and federal
drinking water standards. SWP water also exceeds secondary standards (taste, color, odor) for
aesthetics.

With an estimated 60-90% of residential water use in the Mojave Desert region spent on residential landscaping, human use of water is a factor in the region’s ongoing overdraft. Therefore, the increased use of water conservation practices among  High Desert households is the best way for residents to join in the effort to secure a balanced, long-term water supply.

Most of the area served by MWA is experiencing severe groundwater overdraft, which means more groundwater is used each year than is replaced by nature through rain and snowmelt. Since 1991, the MWA has been importing water from the California Aqueduct  to recharge the groundwater basins from which local water companies and other well owners derive water for all uses: domestic, agricultural, industrial and recreational.

 The growth and prosperity of the High Desert depends on a securing a balanced, long-term supply of water. New homes, businesses and schools can’t be built without a stable water supply in place. New state laws SB 221 and SB 610 – which  require that water supply be accounted for before approval of a development project – have been passed in response to growing concern about the continued availability of water to accommodate population growth in California over the next 20 years  and beyond.

The local area depends on groundwater derived from the Mojave River Basin. Many studies
have demonstrated that some basins are in overdraft. That is, more groundwater is used each
year than is replaced by nature through rain and snowmelt. This has been going on for more
than 40 years, in which time the area’s population has multiplied tenfold.

All properties within the MWA’s 4,900 square mile service area benefit from the Agency’s ability to import water from the California Aqueduct. When there is an insufficient amount of local groundwater available, local water companies  and well owners use this imported water for domestic, agriculture and industrial purposes. Taxes paid to the MWA pay the capital cost of facilities required to build the State Water Project and to distribute water to various basins.

MWA Debt-1 and MWA Debt-2 property taxes are assessed on all property within Mojave
Water Agency boundaries. All property within the 4,900 square miles of the Agency
boundaries benefits from the Agency’s ability to import water. The Agency imports water
through the California Aqueduct to recharge the groundwater from which local water
companies and well owners derive well water for all uses including domestic, agriculture,
and industrial.

About $43 million in grants was provided by the federal government. In addition, the
California Department of Water Resources provided a $5 million grant and a $5 million lowinterest loan. Mojave Water Agency provided just under $9,000.00 from its reserve funds.

The Adjudication defined a producer as an entity that pumps 10 acre-feet or more per year.
Also known as parties to the Judgment, producers are under the jurisdiction of the court. The
MWA serves as the Watermaster, which is the administrative arm of the Court established to
carry out the Judgment. Those well owners who pump less than 10 acre-feet annually are
classified as minimal producers, and the MWA currently has a monitoring program to assess
their water use. Most people in the high desert get their water at their homes or businesses from
an organized water system, and therefore they are not directly affected by either the
Adjudication or the minimal producer program.

Residents of river-adjacent communities such as Hodge, Lenwood, Barstow, Yermo,
Daggett, Minneola, and Newberry Springs benefit from the groundwater recharge. The water is
delivered from the pipeline into recharge basins in or near the river bed.

The pipeline originates at the California Aqueduct on White and Duncan roads in Adelanto
and ends at the Newberry Springs Recharge Facility on Newberry Road. The pipeline roughly
parallels the Mojave River (which roughly parallels National Trails Highway, also known as Old
Route 66.) Delivery of State Project water to the Hodge and Lenwood recharge sites
commenced in 1999. Reach 3, which travels from Lenwood to Daggett, was completed in 2002.
Reach 4, extends to Newberry Road, where the pipeline turns to the south and travels 0.5 miles
to the site of the Newberry Springs Recharge Facility; the Project’s terminus. The pipeline’s
recharge capacity is 45,600 acre-feet per year.

Copies of Phases I & II can be obtained several ways: (1) you may download a
copy from the Mojave Water Agency website: www.mojavewater.org or (2) obtain a
compact disc (CD) or (3) for a nominal fee you can obtain a hard copy at the Mojave
Water Agency office located at 22450 Headquarters Drive in Apple Valley. For more
information visit the Mojave Water Agency Website at: www.mojavewater.org, on the
Agency’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater, or call (760)
946-7000 during business hours.

: Information is available through the AWAC website: www.hdawac.org, and AWACrelated information is available at the public counter/lobby of AWAC participants. In
addition, AWAC distributes literature at various public events held in the region
throughout the year. You can also call (760) 946-7038 for information.

Bids were awarded in November 1996 for the first section of the pipeline, and construction
started in February 1997. The final segment, which recharges groundwater in Yermo-Daggett
and Newberry Springs, was completed in March of 2006. The pipeline stretches approximately
76 miles.

The RWMP was started in December 1991 and Phase One was completed in
June 1994. The updated Phase Two was completed in 2003 and Phase Three was
completed in February 2005. The RWMP was developed to promote sound water
resource management through the effective use of technical information and
scientific data. It provides a strategic, comprehensive approach for long-term
management of the region’s water supplies.

AWAC formed in August, 2003 because not one of the individual participants had the
resources or time to individually encourage water conservation throughout the region.
By combining strengths and resources, the Coalition maximizes the number of residents
that could receive conservation awareness.

AWAC’s participants are too numerous to list here (28) but are on the website.
There are no specific “membership” requirements to support AWAC other than to have
an interest in water conservation. The AWAC’s general membership meets quarterly
and the public is invited to attend the meetings. For accurate information on dates and
times of future meetings call (760) 946-7038.

Mojave Water Agency developed the RWMP through a comprehensive systems
approach. This approach makes the Plan comply with various state requirements for
an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, a Groundwater Management Plan,
and Urban Water Management Plan. MWA is one of only a few agencies in the state
to integrate all three planning documents into one.

The RWMP is a long range planning document that provides an estimate of the
existing and projected water supply and demand for the next 20 years, and is
updated every five years. It also describes the magnitude of the groundwater
overdraft problem, and identifies a wide variety of projects and management actions
to meet present and future water demands.

 The Morongo Basin Pipeline is a 71-mile underground pipeline that delivers water from a five-million gallon reservoir in Landers to percolation ponds in the Yucca Valley area. The pipeline serves nearly 60,000 people and 455 square miles of the High  Desert, including the communities of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Landers and Johnson Valley. The pipeline has played and will continue to play a crucial role in bringing water to people, farms and businesses as well as protecting precious groundwater resources.

The Mojave River Pipeline is a project of the Mojave Water Agency that brings State Water
Project water from the California Aqueduct to replenish the groundwater used by many
communities primarily in the area of Barstow.

The Mojave River Pipeline is a 72 mile pipeline designed to replenish natural groundwater supplies in the Mojave River Basin that are threatened by ongoing overdraft. The Mojave River Pipeline, which will run from Duncan and White roads in Adelanto  to Newberry Springs upon full completion, delivers water from the California Aqueduct through the pipeline by gravity flow. The water is then released into recharge basins in or near local riverbeds. The Mojave River Pipeline will deliver up to 45,000  acre-feet of imported water each year to communities in the Mojave River Basin, helping to ensure a stable water supply to area residents.

The Agency is governed by an elected Board of Directors responsible for making policy decisions that advance the MWA mission and support its bylaws. The MWA General Manager directs the Agency’s day-to-day operations, implements Board policies  and advises the Board on Agency issues.

The Adjudication of the Mojave Basin Area was the legal process that allocated the right to produce water from the available natural water supply. Until the Mojave Water Agency initiated the adjudication and an independent Court issued the Judgment,   water production rights and obligations had never been defined in the Mojave Basin. The Court’s final decision was reached in January 1996.

The Adjudication of the Mojave Basin Area was the legal process that allocated the right to
produce water from the natural water supply. The trial court’s final decision was reached in
January 1996. Until the Mojave Water Agency undertook the Adjudication and an independent
court issued the Judgment, water production rights and obligations never had been defined in
this area. Under the Judgment, each entity considered a water producer during 1986-1990 was
determined to have a certain Base Annual Production (BAP). However, because the area does
not have enough water for producers to pump their maximum amount, each year a producer is
assigned a percentage of its BAP as its Free Production Allowance (FPA). A producers’ FPA is
the amount of water that can be pumped for free during a year without having to pay for
replacement water.

The adjudication is a groundwater management system that is an important tool in achieving a long-term, balanced water supply of water for all residents of the Mojave River Basin. The court-sanctioned system grants groundwater rights to users based upon the maximum amount they pumped between 1986 and 1990. Through the stabilizing structure of the adjudication, the long-running condition of overdraft – when more of the local water supply is used than can be naturally replenished – will  be eliminated.

Rampdown is the primary tool through which the adjudication of the Mojave River Basin is being implemented. It calls for a reduction in pumping rights in five-percent increments until the overdraft is eliminated. Water purveyors can pump more than their share of local groundwater under rampdown, but they must pay an assessment fee on any amount beyond their adjudicated pumping rights. The assessment fee is used to buy imported water to offset the excess local water taken.

MWA is not involved in the decision-making process. Whether to allow—or not allow—a
development project, whether it’s commercial, residential, industrial, institutional or otherwise, is
a decision that rests with the entity having the authority to make land use decisions. MWA
does not have and therefore cannot exercise land use authority. Either a City/Town
Planning Commission or City/Town Council, or the County Planning Commission or the Board
of Supervisors approve or reject development projects.

Since 1968, water quality monitoring for the SWP has been conducted by the State’s
Department of Water Resources (DWR) Division of Operations and Maintenance (O&M), Water
Quality Section (WQS) to monitor eutrophication (an increase in chemical nutrients) in the SWP
facilities, and salinity for agricultural users. The SWP water quality program reviews parameters
of concern for drinking water, recreation, and fish and wildlife purposes.
DWR staff ensures compliance with state drinking water regulations, supports source water
assessments, promotes drought prepardness and water conservation efforts, as well as
oversees equipment installation and responds to operational emergencies.
Today chemical, physical, and biological parameters are routinely monitored throughout the
SWP from the Feather River drainage in the north and to Lake Perris in the south including
more than 40 sites and over 200 individual chemicals.
For the seven locations where MWA releases SWP water into the aquifers, Mother-Nature acts
as a natural purifier. As the water percolates to the water table contaminants such as TDS
(Total Dissolved Solids), arsenic or chromium are removed or greatly reduced. The amount of
contaminants left is negligible and the end user (typically water districts) uses strict standards to
further ensure that the water is safe. All retail water districts must annually prepare and share
with their customers a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) by July 1 that shows the quality of
the water it uses.

AWAC is the Alliance for Water Awareness and Conservation, a voluntary, broadbased coalition of public and private organizations joined to collectively promote water
conservation throughout the High Desert.

A producer who needs more FPA than he has assigned to him must pay for the excess that
he uses. He can do so either by arranging to transfer the desired amount from another producer
or by buying the amount required from the Watermaster which is run by the seven elected
officials who constitute the Mojave Water Agency Board of Directors. The Watermaster Board
decides whether these proposed transactions follow the Watermaster Rules and Regulations
and may therefore take place.

The RWMP evaluates water demand and supplies throughout the MWA service
area, and identifies a set of management actions and projects to address the water
supply needs. The goals are to (1) balance future water demands with available
supplies and (2) maximize the overall beneficial use of water throughout MWA.

The local water source for the High Desert is runoff from the local mountain water sheds. The High Desert has been dependant on groundwater retrieved by wells and by pumping water from groundwater basins and aquifers. The High Desert also receives  water from the State Water Project, which is pumped to our region through the California Aqueduct. Since the MWA is a State Water Project contractor, it is entitled to deliver up to 75,800 feet of water per year from the California Aqueduct.

There are three goals that will help our region ensure a sustainable water supply for
the present and future:

  1. Educate the local community with the understanding of the importance of water
    conservation
  2. Provide the local community with the tools to effectively reduce per capita
    consumption to targeted goals
  3. Reduce regional water use by 20 percent gross per capita by 2020 and 15 percent
    gross per capita by 2015 (5 percent in the Morongo Basin by 2015) to achieve a
    sustainable, reliable supply to meet regional water demands

Beneficial water uses are many but can generally be divided into municipal, industrial, agricultural, recreational and environmental uses.

The Judgment requires each producer to pay an Administrative assessment to fund the
operation of the Watermaster. The Judgment also requires a Biological assessment for a
reserve account to secure water for the environment if and when determined necessary by the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Watermaster.

The Mojave Water Agency (MWA) has the authority granted under Section 97-16 of the
California Water Code to levy property taxes, collected through the San Bernardino County
tax rolls. The taxes collected are mostly used to pay back the bonds and notes issued by the
State of California to build the State Water Project (SWP) including the California Aqueduct
and to pay the Agency’s share of SWP operating costs.
The first tax, MWA Debt-1, is permanently set at 11¼ cents per $100 of assessed value of
land only. The tax rate can never rise on this particular tax; however, the amount of tax can
rise based on any increase in the assessed valuation of your property. This tax helps to fund
the capital, interest, transportation, and construction components of the State Water Project
charges.
The second tax, MWA Debt-2, is levied to supplement the first tax assessment, pay Agency
debt service, and to fund the MWA administration. This tax rate has no cap, and the rate can
be raised by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. It is currently set at 5½ cents per $100
of assessed valuation on land and improvements. These funds are used mostly for funding
additional State Water Project costs for operations, repairs and maintenance, Agency water
purchases, Agency Administration, and the debt incurred to construct facilities and pipelines,
and to purchase additional entitlement water. (Prior to 1997, the Agency was only entitled to
purchase 50,800 acre-feet of water from the State Water Project. In 1997, the Agency
purchased the right to an additional 25,000 acre-feet of water, giving the Agency the
capability to purchase and have delivered 75,800 acre-feet of water. COP’s were issued to
pay these costs and their debt service is being paid from MWA Debt-2.)

The adjudication applies to a water user that pumps 10-acre feet or more per year.

Costs to build and operate a Water Treatment Plant are very costly. Mojave Water Agency
imports SWP water that is delivered through the California Aqueduct at two locations (White
Road in Adelanto and Rock Springs Road in Hesperia). MWA manages seven sites where SWP
water recharges our water table. To add the additional cost of operating treatment plants with
other charges associated with SWP water (water purchases, SWP operations, repairs and
maintenance) would likely result in an increased property tax obligation for customers.
Of the 29-State Water Contractors that import SWP water statewide, only [EITHER THE
NUMBER OR NAMES] treats the water before storing it either in a reservoir or underground.

The Board of Directors does not have a policy stating they will or will not get involved, and
have chosen to simply evaluate the merits of projects on a case-by-case basis and respond
accordingly. Factors they will consider before deciding whether to oppose, support or remain
neutral about a project are:
 some projects may identify potential negative impacts, but the project is required to take
appropriate measures to mitigate the impacts;
 some projects may have potential negative impacts, but the impacts are negligible;
 some projects may have potential negative impacts, but the benefits far outweigh the
disadvantages;
 some projects may generate a significant tax base that could benefit the Agency and its
ability to meet its mission;
 some individuals, agencies or groups may request the Board to address broader “quality
of life issues” such as impacts on transportation, schools, crime or health care–matters
that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Board;
 the Board could be placed in a position where competing requests are being made and
the Board will have to choose in favor of one group over the other and it may be best to
remain neutral.

A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was formed that included a variety of
individuals representing both public and private sector. The TAC served as the
advisory panel and met many times during a three-year period, providing valuable
input towards plan development.

Voluntary contributions are pledged in the form of funds, in-kind materials, and/or inkind staff time by AWAC participants to support AWAC’s efforts. AWAC will also seek
grant funds for specific conservation-related projects.

You can visit the Mojave Water Agency Website at: www.mojavewater.org, on the
Agency’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater or call (760) 946-
7000 during business hours.

You can visit the Mojave Water Agency Website at: www.mojavewater.org, on the Agency’s
Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater, call (760) 946-7000, or (800) 254-
4242 during business hours.

You can visit the Mojave Water Agency Website at: www.mojavewater.org, on the Agency’s
Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater, or call (760) 946-7000 during
business hours.

You can visit the Mojave Water Agency Website at: www.mojavewater.org, on the Agency’s
Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mojavewater, or call (760) 946-7000 during
business hours.

No. The Agency may be required to raise wholesale rates to water purveyors in order to cover increases in the State Water Project cost to the Agency or other increases in local costs, like the power to run our facilities. This may cause water purveyors  to raise their rates to cover the additional cost of water purchased from the MWA. But the decision of whether or not to raise water rates to residents is not made by the Agency.

MWA is sometimes involved indirectly—but not directly in the approval process. The County
and municipalities may look to MWA’s long-range plans to develop their own water supply
assessment, and use that information to influence their decision on whether to approve or deny
a project. As the region’s only water wholesaler, MWA imports supplemental water to serve
municipal and private water agencies. Depending on the customer base of the water agency,
they must also develop a long-range plan for meeting water demands, and that plan may
involve purchasing water from MWA.