California water contractors partner to store excess water

Jan. 15, 2024
The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency has entered a partnership to store its excess water with the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, securing future water supplies by protecting a current surplus.

The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) announced a partnership to store 4,000 acre-feet of its excess water to the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency (AVEK).

Under the agreement, SGPWA will deliver 4,000 acre-feet of water to AVEK’s service area. In exchange, AVEK will return 80% of the water to SGPWA by 2033, in years when the State Water project allocation is 30% or above. There is a five-year extension of any return water remains at the end of the term.

The partnership marks the first time that SGPWA has ever stored water outside of the area to secure future supplies.

After an exceptionally wet year, SGPWA delivered more than 20,000 acre-feet locally in 2023, setting a regional record. The agency’s overall water portfolio is currently around 37,500 acre-feet, after a 100% State Water Project (SWP) allocation and more than 5,000 acre-feet of Article 21 water, available to contractors when there is ample extra supply due to wet weather.

“With more than 15,000 acre-feet of carryover water going into 2024, collaborating with AVEK was key to our ability to take full advantage of all the water available in 2023,” said SGPWA General Manager Lance Eckhart. “Safeguarding our surplus now will allow us to maintain a dependable future supply for the 106,000 people we serve in the region.”

Costs to achieve the water exchange will be shared between SGPWA and AVEK. The total cost of the water exchange is anticipated to be approximately $1.4 million for SGPWA, which is expected to be offset by revenue from the sale of the water when it is returned to the local area or sold to another entity.

“Partnerships between water suppliers will continue to be vital to protecting California’s water supply as we experience future droughts and other possible water shortage situations,” said AVEK General Manager Matt Knudson. “This water exchange benefits customers of both agencies, and we look forward to pursuing additional collaborative opportunities in the years ahead.”

The water exchange with AVEK provides a critical storage solution as SGPWA develops more projects locally and acts to further diversify its water supply. SGPWA is expanding its local recharge capability, including plans to double its water-spreading capacity with the future Brookside West Recharge Facility — a complement to the existing Brookside East Recharge Facility.