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 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 additional 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 taxes. Parcels within MWA Service area include “MWA 1 and 2” property 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, please 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.

90% of residential water use in the Mojave Desert region is spent on residential landscaping. 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 securing a balanced, long-term supply of water. New homes, businesses and schools can’t be built without a stable water supply in place. 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.

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 to keep our water supply balanced.

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.

AWAC’s participants are too numerous to list here but they can be found on the website under Conservation .
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) 946-7000 and ask for the Public Information Department.

 The Morongo Basin Pipeline is a 71-mile underground pipeline that delivers water from the California Aqueduct in southern Hesperia through a five-million gallon reservoir in Landers to the Ames-Reche Recharge Basin, percolation ponds in the Yucca Valley area, and Joshua Tree. 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 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 runs from Victorville to Newberry Springs, 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 can 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 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.

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, or call (760) 946-7000 or (800) 254-4242 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.