Despite Warnings, City Over-pumped Basin
By John Perry
When the City decided to fund and build the $43 million Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP), the City Council justified the enormous cost by telling the residents, “we have to diversify our water supply to add reliability so that the City will have water in case of an extreme drought or earthquake that might interrupt the flow of water from the Metropolitan Water District” (MWD).
Well, we now have an extreme drought and guess what? The GWRP is not drought proof. In fact the San Juan Basin from which the GWRP pumps its water is in danger of drying up because of over pumping by San Juan Basin Authority members.
The Northern portion of the San Juan Basin controlled by the Rancho Mission Viejo Company is going dry because of overuse. Water is now being trucked in to portions of the upper basin because the wells are not producing due to water levels which have dropped to dangerously low levels below the well intakes.
The middle and lower basins also face the same prospect. Wells around the GWRP are now pumping at or below sea level because the water level has dropped by 35 feet in the past several years. Compounding the problem is the lack of replenishment from rainfall, according to a report prepared by Wildermuth Environmental Engineering. The consulting firm is concerned about sea water intrusion into the basin that would contaminate the water in the basin, making it unusable.