Issue 2 | June 27, 2019
High snow pack yields steady water supply
Clouds blanket the sky above Silverwood Lake — a State Water Project reservoir that sits south of Hesperia. With an abundance of rain and snow, similar reservoirs across California have been at or near capacity for much of the year.
Tours galore at Mojave Water
Local representatives and industry partners review the progress being made at the now-completed Amethyst Basin Project during a special facilities tour. A collaborative effort spanning multiple agencies, this joint-use project will allow for groundwater recharge in the area, as well as significantly mitigate flooding through the Oro Grande Wash.
Left: Apple Valley High School students learn about streamflows, groundwater, and more during a tour at Mojave Water Agency.
Right: Members from Mojave Water Agency's Technical Advisory Committee take a tour of Cedar Springs Dam at Silverwood Lake during a special April 4 meeting.
The Cedar Springs Dam at Silverwood Lake can hold approximately 78,000 acre feet of water. That's more than 25 billion gallons!
An aerial view looking east at the S Bacon Island road bridge connecting the northern end of Bacon Island (left) and southern end of Mandeville Island (right), both part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in San Joaquin County. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently scrapped a two-tunnel conveyance project in favor of a new plan centered around a single tunnel. Photo Courtesy of Department of Water Resources
Governor scales back conveyance project
SACRAMENTO — After scrapping a highly anticipated two-tunnel conveyance project that would divert water flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and increase water reliability for millions of Californians, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed state water agencies to begin building the framework for a new project that would be centered around a single tunnel.

In May, Gov. Newsom's administration withdrew permit applications that former Gov. Jerry Brown's administration submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board, ostensibly killing the massive $17 billion project.

As part of the California Water Action Plan, the initial twin tunnels project — also known as the Cal Waterfix — hoped to reestablish natural flows in the Delta by building two 35-mile-long tunnels 135 feet beneath the estuary. By diverting water through the tunnels, the project figured to substantially reduce the impact of State Water Project (SWP) pumps on the natural system.

However, the plan to move to a single-tunnel water conveyance project, according to Mojave Water Agency (MWA) General Manager Tom McCarthy, should still maintain the original project's integrity and desired effect. Excluding the tunnel reduction, the project’s design will be relatively similar: The tunnel will deliver water directly to the pumps protecting native habitat and ensuring resiliency, while protecting the conveyance system against seismic risks and climate change projections.

"Water reliability is critical in a desert region," said MWA Board President Carl Coleman. “We look forward to participating with the Governor and his administration in this project that will result in improved water reliability as our State continues to address a myriad of environmental impacts and climate change.”

As it stands, the SWP operates under tight constraints, subject to strict environmental regulations and scheduling. But despite scaling back the conveyance plan, the project will allow the State something it has long desired: improved operational flexibility.

"With this project, if you don't want to take water from the San Joaquin River, hopefully you won't need to. You can take it from the Sacramento River and then vice versa," McCarthy said. "One might say that the gain in reliability in the system is really just mitigating some of your losses ... This could almost be considered a mitigation project to take care of some of the environmental problems that a project could create."

By allowing operation during times that would otherwise be prohibited without the conveyance project, water contractors throughout the state, like MWA, should see a perpetually greater share of its annual water allotment, thus granting the possibility of purchasing more SWP water for groundwater recharge storage. In theory, the conveyance project will allow the SWP to send more water south during wet periods without risking the health of the Delta ecosystem.

"In the last five years, we've had one of the driest years on record, and two of the wettest so we have to figure out how to manage that," McCarthy said referencing the importance on maximizing water reliability through the SWP. As a member of the State Water Contractors, MWA has a contract to purchase up to 89,800 acre feet of water from the State. The Agency purchases varying amounts of water annually to ensure local needs are met, as well as helps replenish the local groundwater supply.

"If we have a wet year," he continued, "we want to recharge (the water) and get it into the ground so if the next year is dry, we're prepared."

With the fate of California's largest water system hanging in the balance, the Delta Conveyance Project will now need to undergo a new set of environmental studies before the State can move forward with its new plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Local officials dedicate Amethyst Basin flood control & water project
VICTORVILLE – The High Desert became safer and better-able to meet its future water needs with the completion of the Amethyst Basin flood control and groundwater recharge facility. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held June 13.

The 27.4-acre project, 10 years in the making, has been a cooperative effort between the San Bernardino County Flood Control District, Mojave Water Agency (MWA), City of Victorville and California Department of Water Resources. Officials from each of these agencies participated in the dedication ceremony.

“This project is a great example of how collaboration between various agencies can address the community’s needs while achieving cost-saving efficiencies,” said San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, who also serves on the governing body of the County Flood Control District.

Designed to handle a 100-year storm, the basin will capture peak storm flows and release them at a manageable rate to protect property and road crossings downstream of the basin, including Interstate 15. The County Flood Control District partnered with MWA to incorporate interior dikes to allow for the recharge of imported water into local groundwater basins.

"The Amethyst Basin Project is an important flood control facility for this area, but it also serves as a groundwater recharge basin right here in Victorville adding to the region's sustainability," MWA Board President Carl Coleman said. "The execution of this effort was like a relay race with each entity handing off the baton. It's this kind of collaboration that yields great results."

Amethyst Basin will deliver State Water Project (SWP) water to recharge basins in the Oro Grande Wash, located west of Interstate 15 and south of Bear Valley Road in Victorville. Water from the SWP will be delivered to the recharge ponds through a pipeline that connects to the California Aqueduct at the Highway 395 turnout.

MWA also provided right of way for the project and helped the Flood Control District secure a $5.2 million grant from the Department of Water Resources, which accounted for the bulk of funding for the $9 million project.

“The project is an example of successful collaboration among agencies to work on multi-benefit projects to improve water supply reliability while reducing flood risks and protecting public safety,” said Vic Nguyen, Southern Region Office Chief for the California Department of Water Resources.

Taxpayers saved $2 million when 200,000 cubic yards of dirt from the basin was used in the Ranchero Road Interchange Project. The City of Victorville assisted in utility relocation and with the planning of future road improvements. The basin is located just east of Sycamore Street and Amethyst Road in Victorville.

"The Amethyst Basin brings tremendous benefit to the community of Victorville through improved flood control, increased safety, and the recharging of our groundwater supply, which ultimately increases our potential for future development," said Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia. "We are grateful for the interagency collaboration and investment of manpower and resources that made this capital improvement a reality."
MWA presented GFOA Award, earns 'perfect audit' for second consecutive year
APPLE VALLEY — Mojave Water Agency (MWA) was recently awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

The financial distinction was granted to the local state water agency on the heels of a “perfect audit” result for the 2017-18 fiscal year — the second consecutive year the Agency has attained such marks during the annual review of its financial records.

“The GFOA award is a testament to the diligent and meticulous work our staff does on a daily basis, especially when dealing with tax-payer money,” MWA Board President Carl Coleman said. “Earning a perfect audit two years in a row is not an easy feat so that’s something of which to be extremely proud.”

During a Nov. 8 Board meeting, auditors, who combed through financial records for the 2017-18 fiscal year, told the Agency’s Board of Directors their report did not contain audit findings (recommendations for internal controls) nor audit adjustments (amendments to the year-end numbers provided by staff).

“Our finance department takes great care of our records,” MWA General Manager Tom McCarthy said. “Above all else, our Agency values transparency and I think earning a perfect audit two years in a row, in addition to the GFOA award, proves it.”

The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is the highest form of recognition handed out by the GFOA in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. The certificate is awarded to the individual(s) or department designated by the government as primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning CAFR.

The CAFR is reviewed by an impartial panel to make sure it meets the lofty standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.
Q&A with MWA's newest — and youngest — employee: Andrew Canchola
Though he's just entering his sophomore year of college, Andrew Canchola is no stranger to the Mojave Water Agency (MWA). Nearly two years removed from being named a top-three finalist in the Agency's annual essay contest, Canchola has taken on the role as MWA's youngest part-time employee. While he figures to only be here a few months before departing back to the Centennial State where he attends Colorado State University, here are a few things to know about the Agency's newest employee:

Q: As a previous finalist in our annual essay contest, what was your experience like going through the mentorship program and having to deliver a presentation in front of a room full of people and panel of judges? What did you learn from the process?
A: Throughout the mentorship program, I was fortunate to have Orlando Acevedo as my mentor. He offered me great advice in the development of my essay and presentation. Presenting in front of a room full of people was nerve-racking leading up to that point but it was a great opportunity to practice my public speaking skills. This project allowed me to network with people and learn as much as I could from the resources that were provided.

Q: Your major is in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis on Sustainable Water. What made you choose this area of focus and what do you hope to do with this degree one day?
A: The reason why I chose this area of focus stems from the fact that I have a passion for the outdoors. Because water is one of our most valuable resources, I want to study ways to sustain reliable water sources. I hope to find a career that will have a positive impact for future water supplies.

Q: Last year, you graduated from Serrano High School. As a longtime High Desert resident, how was the transition moving to Fort Collins, Colorado?
A: The chilly temperatures and snow made it much different than the High Desert. I was fortunate to quickly make new friends who are Colorado natives and have gracious families that have supported me along the way. 

Q: Fill in the blank: When you are not studying, you are _____.
A: Spending time with my friends and going on mini adventures to Horsetooth Reservoir where there are endless hiking trails and trees to hammock from. Another fun activity is to go to Old Town — which Disneyland’s Main Street is modeled after — and walk around in the little shops and get some ice cream.

Q: What is an interesting tidbit about yourself that people may not know?
A: I have a twin sister that is attending Grand Canyon University.

Q: What are some career goals that you have set for yourself?
A: To gain as much experience and certifications as possible to prepare me for advancement in a professional water-related career.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I would like to be in a position where I have gained enough knowledge and resources over the years to be in a stable job that I can impact the world for the better.

Q: What do you hope to learn/accomplish during your stint at MWA?
A: I hope to gain “real-world” experience that will help me as I continue my studies at Colorado State University.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add about yourself?
A: I am extremely honored to have this opportunity to work alongside some of the best professionals in the field and I want to get the most out of the time that I have here. Feel free to bombard me with as much information as possible and I will do my best to complete any task given to me to the best of my abilities.
Be on the lookout for the following events over the next few months:

TAC Meetings
• When: 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 1
• Where: Mojave Water Agency, 13846 Conference Center Drive, Apple Valley

Today in Water
• When: 8:30 to 10 a.m. Aug. 7
• Where: Mojave Water Agency, 13846 Conference Center Drive, Apple Valley

ABC's of Water:
• When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 24
• Where: Mojave Water Agency, 13846 Conference Center Drive, Apple Valley
Catch us live on Facebook!
Over the course of the last quarter, Mojave Water Agency has done several Facebook Live broadcasts. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and check out future broadcasts that will allow you to interact with staff and attend events all from the comfort of your home. Also, be sure to check us out on Twitter!