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Valley groundwater levels show `significant increases'

Groundwater levels throughout most of the Coachella Valley have increased significantly over the past decade, according to an annual analysis released today by the local water district.

The Coachella Valley Water District submitted two annual reports for the 2017-18 water year to the California Department of Water Resources, one on the Indio Subbasin and the other on the Mission Creek Subbasin, which make up most of the valley's aquifer.

The report documents ``significant increases'' in groundwater levels in the range of 2-50 feet in the past decade in most of the Indio Subbasin, located under the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella, and the unincorporated communities of Thousand Palms, Thermal, Bermuda Dunes, Oasis and Mecca.

The exception was the mid-valley area of the subbasin, where "localized portions of decreased water levels in the range of 2-8 feet,'' according to the report. According to the water district, that area "will soon benefit'' from the Palm Desert Replenishment Facility. Phase one of the project is operational and phase two planning is underway, a spokeswoman said.   

In the Mission Creek Subbasin located under Desert Hot Springs and the unincorporated area of Indio Hills, increases in groundwater levels in most of the subbasin of up to 28.5 feet have been documented, according to the report.

"Successful groundwater replenishment programs, along with continued efforts to conserve, reduce water waste and to connect customers to the nonpotable water system for irrigation purposes, resulted in the positive trends observed in groundwater storage in both subbasins during the past 10 years,'' according to a CVWD statement.   

CVWD spokeswoman Katie Evans said the districtis also continuing efforts to connect more golf courses to nonpotable water such as recycled or Colorado River water instead of groundwater.

The reports document the ``water'' year from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018, and do not reflect the powerful winter rainstorms in the desert over the past few months.

Evans said the recent rains should raise groundwater levels, but as the levels are analyzed over a long period of time, usually 10 years, "one wet year may not make a big impact.'' Continued water conservation efforts are crucial to continued groundwater sustainability in the Coachella Valley, she 
added.   

The annual reports were submitted to the California Department of Water Resources by the state's April 1 deadline to comply with the reporting requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The full reports can be viewed on the CVWD's website.

The CVWD, which is governed by a five-member board of directors, serves about 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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