EL CENTRO — Golden State Water Company (GSWC) issued notice to its customers, including Calipatria residents, of its water shortage contingency and staged mandatory water conservation and rationing program, where the already-disadvantage community would not only be expected to conserve water, but also pay fines for water-use violations.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted to send a letter Tuesday, Sept. 21, requesting a variance for Calipatria Customer Service Area (CSA) of the Golden State Water Company’s mandatory water conservation and rationing program for the Apple Valley, Barstow, Calipatria, Morongo Valley, and Wrightwood service areas.

The letter asks for Calipatria CSA customers to be excluded from the implementation of the program, or at minimum, be excluded before progressing to a stage two declaration of water conservation efforts.

In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order calling on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent compared to 2020 levels. It was suggested that state residents reduce landscape irrigation, run dishwashers and washing machines only when full, find and fix leaks, install water-efficient showerheads, and take shorter showers. He also added nine counties to the regional drought state of emergency — Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. 

Imperial County residents are not subject to Newsom’s drought emergency declaration and subsequent conserve efforts as they are provided Colorado River water by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID). IID also provides water to the Golden State Water Company for the Calipatria CSA customers, according to the letter.

As previously reported by this publication, the 2007 Drought Contingency Plan governs water allotments in the event of a water shortage, where there are three stages of Lake Mead elevations that each trigger water cutbacks.

The Board has previously sent letters to Golden State Water and the California Public Utilities Commission regarding the damage of rate increases and additional charges to Calipatria residents.

“Any potential increase of rates or additional fees or surcharges would have a considerable negative economic impact for individuals who most suffer from a combination of economic, health, and environmental burdens,” the letter stated.

The most recent letter before this one was sent regarding the company’s proposed rate increase in July 2020. The Board’s letter was sent in September of 2020.

Imperial County CEO Tony Rouhotas has previously said Calipatria is in a GSWC region that is compared to other cities with GSWC’s service areas that have a higher cost of living.

“We need to look at how these cities are being placed together as a region,” said Rouhotas of the letter regarding the opposition to the rate increase last year.

Editor

Office Manager, Assignment/Copy Editor, DKN Managing Editor, Reporter, and The Millennial Meltdown Columnist

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