We were formed in 1954 as a regional planning agency to manage the long-range water supply for the San Bernardino Valley. We import water into the service area as a State Water Contractor via the State Water Project and we manage groundwater storage. We were incorporated under the Municipal Water District Act of 1911. Valley District’s enabling act includes a broad range of powers to provide water, as well as wastewater and storm water disposal, recreation, and fire protection services.
Valley District’s service area covers southwestern San Bernardino County and has a population of nearly 800,000 (in 2019). The service area spans the eastern two-thirds of the San Bernardino Valley, the Crafton Hills, and a portion of the Yucaipa Valley, and includes the cities and communities of Bloomington, Colton, East Highland, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Muscoy, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino, and Yucaipa.
Valley District receives State Water Project (SWP) water at the Devil Canyon Power Plant Afterbay (near California State University San Bernardino). Water is transported 17 miles eastward to various spreading grounds, agricultural, and wholesale domestic delivery points in the San Bernardino basin; and transported westward for direct delivery and recharge in the Colton-Rialto basin.
In the 1960s, the over-commitment of water in the Santa Ana River watershed led to lawsuits between water users in the upper and lower watersheds regarding the use of both surface flows and groundwater. The lawsuits culminated in 1969 in the Orange County and Western judgments. Under the terms of the settlements, Valley District became responsible for providing a specific amount of Santa Ana River base flow to Orange County and maintaining the safe yield in the San Bernardino Basin Area. Additionally, Valley District had to maintain water levels in specified key wells in the Colton Basin Area and Riverside Basin Area. If the conditions of either judgment are not met by the natural water supply, then Valley District is required to deliver supplemental water to offset the deficiency. The judgments resolved the major water rights issues that had prevented the development of long-term, region-wide water supply plans and established specific objectives for the management of the groundwater basins.
Valley District is legally required to maintain a flow equivalent to approximately 15,250 acre-feet per year at the Riverside Narrows on the Santa Ana River (SAR). This requirement is currently met with approximately 25,000 acre-feet per year of treated wastewater that is discharged into the SAR from the cities of San Bernardino, Colton and Rialto. As a result of this recycled water discharge and normal stream flow in the SAR, Valley District has never had to use imported water to augment flows in the SAR.
Valley District has provided water at Riverside Narrows in amounts greater than its obligation and has accumulated a "credit" for the excess amounts during prior years. If needed, we could use these water credits to meet a portion of our legal obligation during dry years, subject to the minimum annual flow of 12,420 acre-feet at the Riverside Narrows.