Author: Jeffrey

San Bernardino gets the full reservoir

San Bernardino gets the full reservoir

L.A.’s quest for water leaves costly bill: Higher rates for customers, choking air pollution

With water, San Bernardino is just where state regulators wanted to be.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the San Bernardino reservoir at Lake Arrowhead is full.

And then San Bernardino customers got the bill for that full reservoir — and not just because they lost water in a wet spring and summer.

Last year, as the reservoir nears capacity, there’s less water to sell to San Bernardino, forcing San Bernardino to buy more water in other places.

The result: An additional $1 million in charges for customers. And if the state can’t find enough water elsewhere, residents will continue to get high rates — at least until the water is flowing.

San Bernardino got the state-mandated 8.9-million-gallon-per-day capacity for its water system, in a state where a full reservoir is a rare occurrence.

“As a basin community, we’re always concerned with water in the reservoir,” said Dan Smith, public information officer for the California Water Commission.

“The good news is that by having the full reservoir, we’re doing better than ever before in terms of the water level in the reservoir, and the water quality is as good as we’ve ever experienced,” said Smith, referring to the new federal rules for water quality standards.

The problem is, the federal rules don’t apply to water levels at the reservoir, where San Bernardino gets its water for free — a rare perk in a drought-stricken state that’s already struggling to find water. Instead, federal requirements apply only to the pumping stations where water enters the system.

The problem is that the state’s water commission and the state’s public utilities commission are now required to buy water at the same price, regardless of the reservoir’s level.

“Our ability to pay is being reduced or eliminated,” said Richard Hahn, a lawyer with the San Bernardino-based law firm Morrison & Foerster. “We’re losing the market rate for water on a daily basis.”

Hahn is representing city and county officials who filed suit this week against the California Water Commission

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