The Coachella Valley is a large and growing region in arid southern California. Its water supply primarily comprises the underlying groundwater basin, surface water imported from the Colorado River, and recycled water. These water supplies are facing threats and challenges from climate change, groundwater overdraft, and water-quality degradation.
In 2020/21, the water and wastewater agencies in the Coachella Valley (CV) that are responsible for developing a Salt and Nutrient Management Plan (SNMP) for the groundwater basin (CV-SNMP Agencies) hired West Yost to lead a multi-stakeholder effort, including the Regional Board staff, in the development of the CV-SNMP Workplan. The Workplan included a Groundwater Monitoring Program Workplan and was approved by the Regional Board in October 2021.
The forthcoming work with the CV-SNMP Agencies to implement the CV-SNMP Workplan and develop the CV-SNMP will be a multi-year, multi-stakeholder project that is being conducted pursuant to the State’s Recycled Water Policy. The West Yost team includes the foremost professionals in California in SNMP law and policy (Tess Dunham of Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP) and stakeholder engagement and outreach (Meagan Wylie of Zephyr Collaboration).
The project is extremely important to the stakeholders and ratepayers in the Coachella Valley. The CV-SNMP must have co-equal objectives to maximize the beneficial use of the groundwater basin, Colorado River water, and recycled water, while also protecting groundwater quality pursuant to State law and the Antidegradation Policy. It must balance regulatory, social, environmental, and economic interests and must be developed through technically defensible methods to ensure approval by the Regional Board along with acceptance/participation of all stakeholders in the Coachella Valley.
The Groundwater Sector at West Yost was chosen to lead this work amongst stiff competition. The decision was based on our long history of leading the development and implementation of innovative technical and policy solutions that balance the water-supply challenges of water/wastewater agencies and State mandates to protect water quality, including our successful experience in salt-and-nutrient management planning, our preeminent skills in computer-simulation modeling of water quality, and our track record in leading multi-stakeholder groups and technical committees.
West Yost is working with the CV-SNMP Agencies and the Regional Board staff in developing an SNMP that helps achieve water-supply and water-quality sustainability to benefit all stakeholders in the Coachella Valley. The West Yost team and the CV-SNMP Agencies are partners in this important and meaningful work.
The project manager for this effort is Andy Malone, PG, Principal Geologist in the West Yost Groundwater Sector.