Discover where Riverside’s water comes from

Discover where Riverside’s water comes from


just how precious is our water without
it life would not exist is not surprising that River sites founders
settled near water sources for drinking and to grow crops during the 1870s the
time of riverside settlement water was the key commodity for growth and water
rights were privately owned by landowners by 1879 legislation was put
into place for proposed water interests to be regulated by city and county
governments riverside officially became a city in 1883 and by 1895 was one of
the wealthiest cities per capita because of the successful citrus growing
industry this was all due to a plentiful water supply voters approved to purchase
the domestic water service from a privately held Riverside Water Company
in 1913 to officially form the Riverside municipal light and Water Company with
the visionary spirit of our city’s founding fathers we have continued to
find new ways to maintain our water independence this video explained by
Riverside public utilities geologist Greg Herzog explains River sized water
source to tap I’m a utility senior resource analyst and my job is primarily
to look after the city’s water interests and water rights and so anything to do
with water I’m there I monitor the groundwater Basin we’ll check for water
levels to see how our wells are doing we also look at water quality but at the
end of the day we’re interested in protecting our water supply and our
water supply starts here at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains
we’re in highland below the Sevenoaks dam
and we’re at the base of the dam and they’re releasing water right now that
is going to be navigated to basins to recharge our groundwater in San
Bernardino the dam was completed in 1998 yes so Riverside has an adjudicated
right in the bunker hill Basin which is the groundwater basin underlying San
Bernardino and we own Riverside owns a certain percentage of water and so we
pay a pump tax to San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and in turn
they operate facilities to get as much water in the ground as possible that
ultimately Riverside pumps back out to serve to our customers currently the
water is brown because of the recent fires over the last few years and this
year’s been a very wet year so it’s kicked up a lot of sediment that’s come
down with the water yes so going back to the early 1900’s Riverside was again
part of the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District and we paid
through a pump tax and what that district would do is they would divert
the water coming out of the Santa Ana River to the recharge basins however
when the dam was built it enabled additional water supplies to be stored
behind it and so Riverside worked with Western municipal water district and San
Fernando Valley municipal water district and we actually went Sacramento to
increase our water rights and so we got up to 200,000 acre feet of water from
this dam so this dam not only does it work with Orange County Water District
and tandem with Prado but and so it alleviates or it works for a flood
control purposes but it also works for water conservation the 550 foot high
Sevenoaks dam is 3,000 feet wide and was built to withstand an earthquake of a
magnitude over eight completed in 1998 it offers 350 year flood protection at
the site and also works to ensure a 100-year flood stays in the Santa Ana
River channel between seven and Prato dams years of litigation
determine how much water each agency may take from the dam so we’re below the dam
at what is known as the cuddle we’re the weir was originally constructed at the
turn of the century in the 1900s and since that time San Bruno Valley Water
Conservation District has added improvements and different valves to
operate the water and what they do is the Conservation District will operate
valves and send water to different water agencies and then whatever is left over
they put it in recharge basins below this area a weir is a structure that
impedes water flow and it usually has a cutout in it and you could operate this
cutout to identify how much water’s flowing past it and you could control
the water and to cut the cuddle Weir is named originally after Frances kuddle
who was the president of the Riverside Water Company back in the late 1800s
which the City of Riverside ultimately took over so there’s some really old
water rights associated with this water the oldest being Bear Valley mutual
water company so they I believe are the first first in line to get water
followed by a few other mutual water companies then after that it goes to
Conservation District to recharge and then after that or kind of a in
conjunction with that there’s also an additional Santa Ana River water right
that sammartino Valley and Western also Riverside got when the dam was built
they send water to the Mutual’s first and then they put as much in the ground
and then after the fact once I’ve done all the accounting they kind of divvy up
what bucket to put the water in these original diversion gates made of heavy
metals were constructed in the early 1900’s they are extremely heavy and take
a lot of physical strength to manually operate over the decades these gates
have weathered many storms so the seals are no longer 100
water-tight the new diversion gates are made of modern materials which are
machined precisely to be watertight when closed and our computer operated no
longer requiring physical manpower we’re so pretty close to the dam we’re
just below the dam just a couple hundred feet from the last facility being the
cuddle weird so this is an investment that the City of Riverside paid about
22% towards and where we partnered with San Fernando Valley municipal water
district on this and so this facility is intended to move a lot more water
through here to get a lot more water into the ground this facility was
designed by San Remo Valley Municipal Water District and the purpose of those
holes does slow the water down so that it will flow into this sediment Basin
which is just behind the wall as rainwater and snowmelt runs off the
mountains it picks up large amounts of dirt rocks ash from wildfires and other
sediments during the building of this new conveyance channel engineers from
San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District were faced with the challenge
of slowing the flow of water from the dam to allow the sediment to settle out
of the water before reaching the settling ponds this wall dubbed the
Swiss cheese wall is how they solved this problem the holes in the cement
wall slow the flow of water allowing sediment to settle out of the water
which will aid in the percolation process once the water reaches the
purple ation ponds yes so we’re about a half mile below the Sevenoaks dam at
another San Bruno Valley Water Conservation District diversion
structure and so just above we were at the cuddle weir this is another
structure below the cuddle Weir and it could divert water it’s that kind of the
first in a series of other diversions and it will direct water into one
location or to another location and those locations are where the recharge
basins are located on most days unless there has been
significant rainfall these picturesque conveyance channels remain dry this is
why Riverside residents rely on the groundwater in our area geologists study
the properties and distribution of natural underground water reservoirs
their water storage capacity and the role of fault lines and groundwater
distribution so right behind me is the famous San Andreas Fault it is right at
the base of these foothills and it continues all the way down to the Cajon
Pass where it then meets up with the San Jacinto fault
so between the San Andreas Fault and the San Jacinto fault is where the Bunker
Hill but groundwater Basin is located which is where Riverside gets about 60
to 70 percent of its groundwater supplies so number one right at the base
of the San Marino Mountains is the San Andreas Fault and so essentially you had
Mountain lifting going up and as the San Moreno mountains were being lifted up by
the fault you had erosion coming off of the hills coming into the Santa Ana
River Valley forming what would ultimately become the groundwater
aquifer now at the far end of the basin where the San Jacinto faults located at
because you’ve had quite a bit of movement along that fault it’s formed a
clay layer and so that clay actually impedes water movement so the water gets
backed up behind the San Jacinto fault forming or residing in the groundwater
basin Riverside got most of its water originally in the late 1800s and it was
from artesian wells and it was artesian because the water was backed up behind
the fault and there’s also a clay cap through a portion of the basin and so
when you stuck a straw right through the clay cap water would come shooting up
out of the ground because it was under tons of pressure yeah so it’s it’s a
little complicated now you know back a long time ago there weren’t as many
houses and it was easier you could just put a put a well in since you know the
last hundred years we’ve had a much better understanding of the faults in
the area so we stay away from faults we also stay away from groundwater
contaminant there are some contaminant issues in
this area which ultimately gets treated so sometimes we’ll cite a replacement
well that’s intended to capture that plume and then it then goes to treatment
and some of our other wells we try to stay far away from that plume so water
quality goes into it and then just having a good a good area
you know we’re fortunate in the sense that we have about 30 or so wells in
this area so we have a lot of data to look at when we’re trying to identify
where our next ball is going to go these settling ponds were designed and
built by engineers to speed up the percolation process allowing the
aquifers to recharge more efficiently our geologist
consults with engineers to ensure the use of soils with the highest
infiltration rates the expertise of the geologist in managing the groundwater
supply is crucial to securing current as well as future water needs all of river
sized drinking water comes from aquifers in the Bunker Hill groundwater basin
data collection and tracking are integral parts of ensuring groundwater
supplies Riverside Public Utilities owns and operates 56 wells although not every
well necessarily runs every day greg spends time each month visiting wells
collecting and recording data after unlocking a secured monitoring well a
water sensor is used to measure the distance before hitting water an alarm
will alert when the sensor touches water indicating how far down the water level
is while monitoring wells stay securely locked to prevent unauthorized access
the safety measures employed to protect those wells are basic compared to the
tight security on a production well this production while named Thornwell number
12 is caged with heavy duty fencing and locked
inside the locked compound the well pumps water from the ground sending it
through pipe works then on to treatment facilities because of production well is
drawing drinking water from the ground the utility takes drastic precautions to
protect all production wells from any possibility of unauthorized tampering
after routine inspections or data collection we make sure the alarm is
reset and all gates are locked from this well the water will journey a few miles
to the first treatment facility which is also heavily secured water is pumped
into the tanks treated and then pumped through other treatment processes before
it is sent on to water storage reservoirs throughout its long history
riverside public utilities has continued to invest in updating old facilities and
building new infrastructure to provide water to thousands of Riverside
residents now and into the future because of this riverside has not had to
purchase and import water since 2008 geologist Greg Herzog is a part of the
team of engineers hydrologists water quality testers and hundreds of other
professionals who work daily making sure Riverside offers their customers the
highest quality water at the most affordable rates to benefit the
community you

4 thoughts on “Discover where Riverside’s water comes from

  1. Looks like there is cyanobacteria bloom that has poisoned the water like it has all of America's water ways, only way to stop this is to treat it with ozone or UV light. Water chemists just keep adding more chemicals thinking it will fix the problem but it doesn't, it only poisons the water and causes even more health issues for the consumers. We've noticed our water here in the City smells like pool water lately, we do not drink it. We've invested in a shower filter because the water is harsh and giving us chlorine skin rashes. Hopefully Riverside County get's ahead of the curve and starts investing in ozone treatment plants.

  2. Thanks Greg and to RPU staff for sharing our water story. Never been more important. With a GrowRiverside initiative and an agricultural water rate set to go into effect, we're well positioned to build community equity and collective impact. That will cause a bloom of dividends for the City and region.

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