By John Perry
A draft report prepared for the San Juan Basin Authority (SJBA) exposes new problems with our water supply. The draft report, prepared by Wildermuth Environmental Associates, indicates far less water in the basin than previously reported. Previous studies estimated about 40,000 acre feet of water in the basin. The draft report estimates around 20,000 acre feet as of 2012 (theoretical maximum storage is about 26,000 acre feet). However, the report also indicates that the basin actually has only 13,000 acre feet of recoverable water.
Wildermuth predicts that due to the plans to continue pumping water out of the depleted basin, seawater intrusion is imminent.
Our water plant is not capable of processing seawater; therefore the intrusion of seawater would not only cause the plant to shut down but would cause all of the other very expensive wells in the area to become unusable.
The proposed solutions are outrageously expensive and could drastically increase our already-high water rates.
Rainfall recharges the water supply, amounting to about 6800 acre feet in a normal year. According to the report however, planned pumping of the basin will exceed the recharge amount, causing depletion and lowering of the water level, exposing it to seawater intrusion.
Both San Juan and SCWD are expanding their groundwater plants to pump increased amounts. San Juan recently applied for and received another $5 million in taxpayer funding to expand our plant.
The report proposes a series of “alternative solutions” to sustain planned basin pumping, conditioned on when - or if - a desalinization plant will be constructed near Doheny Beach by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).