Riverside Public Utilities Regarding Writ of Mandate and Complaint Filing
“On June 4, the City of Riverside filed a verified petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Relief regarding the State Water Resources Control Board and its decision to implement emergency drought regulations. The specifics of this action are detailed in the verified petition filed with the Superior Court of California in the County of Fresno.
“Our action is not in disagreement with the Governor’s emergency plans or even the Water Board’s emergency drought regulations. As an independent Public Utility, we strongly and urgently believe in water conservation and have worked since 2004 to establish enough reserves to be water independent and not rely on state water resources. Our conservation efforts have resulted in a 23 percent decline in per capita water use over the last six years. According to State Water Board monthly reports, Riverside’s water use in April 2015 was on par with the statewide average and 14% below the average for our region.
“We are proud to be a model city for water conservation, and as the Writ of Mandate outlines, we easily meet the State’s definition of ‘water independence’ with sufficient water to serve our customers; by having at least a four year supply of water in the Bunker Hill water basin that is naturally and regularly recharged; and no plans or need to ever import water.
“Earlier this year we petitioned the Water Board to include Riverside in a 4% conservation tier set up specifically for water suppliers who can meet this definition of water independence. Our request was ignored and no evidence was given us to why including groundwater suppliers would be any more difficult that including surface water suppliers. As our Writ of Mandate outlines, no reason was given for listening to one class of water suppliers but ignoring the other class of water suppliers.
“Simply put, our groundwater basin with its ample reserves that regularly recharge is the same as if we owned an above-ground water reservoir that met the state’s requirement for water independence.
“Unless a temporary restraining order and injunction is issued, Riverside will be faced with up to a $10,000 a day fee for noncompliance. If the Water Board does not reconsider its position toward Riverside Public Utilities, it sends a message that our efforts since 1913 to be water independent have been in vain. It means our prior capital expenses and ongoing investments in groundwater management would become significantly stranded investments that are not serving our residents and ratepayers.
“In closing, we recognize the dire nature of the drought and believe Governor Brown’s call to action is timely, necessary and visionary for the state. However, the one-size-fits-all mandate applies a set of regulations without regard to Riverside’s position of having adequate water supplies. We look forward to working with the Water Board to resolve this situation.”
Established in 1895, Riverside Public Utilities is a consumer-owned water and electric utility governed by a board of nine community volunteers that provides high quality, reliable services to over 107,000 metered electric customers and up to 65,000 metered water customers throughout the City of Riverside. The Utility is committed to increased use of renewable energy resources and sustainable living practices that help reduce environmental impacts within the City of Riverside and the state of California.