WHITEWATER, Calif.- - Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) has hired a security firm to patrol the Whitewater River area near Interstate 10 to prevent people from trespassing in and near the water.
Patrols will begin Friday May 17, 2019. News Channel 3's Madison Weil was at Whitewater River for the debut of the new security protocol, and speaking with a representative from CVWD about the new policy.
"This week our board of directors approved a contract with a security firm and that security firm is going to be out here all summer ensuring that people are not swimming in this water and not trespassing on this land. And we’re hoping that that will deter people from being here and hopefully save their lives,” Katie Evans, Director of Communications and Conservation, CVWD.
The agency hired Southwest Protective Services to provide security services daily from sunrise to sunset beginning May 20 and through Sept. 30 during the desert's hottest months. The board approved a contract for $52,562 for the service. A contingency amount of $7,438 brought the total authorization to $60,000.
"CVWD has repeatedly reminded residents and visitors that it is unlawful to enter the Whitewater River channel and area canals," said Evans. "We decided to take this additional step to further protect the public during the hot months when the temptation to visit the water is especially high."
The extra security is in addition to CVWD's ongoing work with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department to keep people away from the two areas.
Officials say the riverbanks pose an extreme danger, which is why it is unlawful to enter them. At the Whitewater River area near Windy Point on either side of Interstate 10, officials say the flow rate has the capacity to reach 720 cubic feet per second, which can easily knock an adult person off their feet leading to injury or death.
“This is a really dangerous place to try and hang out. And the reason is it looks really refreshing, it looks really tempting when you’re driving down I-10 and it’s 118 degrees out and the water’s rushing...it looks beautiful and clear. But once you get down here to get closer you can really see the water is rushing very very quickly. Absolutely fast enough to knock an adult off their feet,” said Evans.
In September 2018, 41-year-old David Martinez-Garcia died while attempting to save his 7-year-old son. Both were swept away by the current. CAL FIRE says rescues have been made at the river every year.
CVWD officials say trespassers risk prosecution, which could lead to fines and jail time – but most importantly, they risk their lives.
The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional stormwater protection, groundwater management, and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.
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