Water quality has never been a greater issue in California than it is today.
An ongoing and historic drought in California, along with reduced supplies from Northern California and the Colorado River have made protecting existing water supplies a more urgent matter than ever before.
Outside of the water provided by the California State Water Project and the Colorado River, most of our local water comes from underground basins.
In west San Bernardino County, that is the Chino Basin, one of the largest water basins in Southern California.
The newest threats to Chino Basin are the thousands of septic tanks in the region that are slowly leaching nitrates into the groundwater, many of which are over 50 years old or older and have existed well beyond their service life.
Over 1,500 such systems currently exist in the unincorporated areas between the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, and Montclair.
The ultimate answer to this problem is to provide a sewer system for the capture and treatment of effluent to replace the septic tanks as they age out, but there is currently no plan by the service providers in the cities of Chino or Montclair to do so.
Worse, the City of Chino has rejected numerous applications to connect to their sewer service by landowners in the unincorporated area which the city has the capacity to provide.
Fortunately for the region, the Monte Vista Water District (MVWD) has stepped in to fill this void and provide sewer service to the unincorporated area, ultimately removing these 1,500 septic tanks over the coming years.
It is the only responsible action for MVWD to take.
Monte Vista is the water purveyor for Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, and the surrounding unincorporated area. Under California law, public water agencies are empowered to provide sewer services within their service territory.
To that effect, MVWD has applied to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to activate their latent sewer powers in the unincorporated county area.
MVWD plans on providing sewer service in the areas not currently served, building the system over time using development fees, federal, state, and local grants, sewer fees and other approved financial mechanisms.
MVWD will eventually provide sewer connections to residents and businesses currently on septic removing those liabilities from the threat to our water supply.
Water customers will not be affected by the new sewer service as water and sewer services are separate entities under state law and funds from one service cannot be comingled with the other.
Unfortunately, the City of Chino, which has refused to provide sewer service to multiple applicants in the unincorporated area and hasn’t even looked at servicing it since a 1993 study, is threatening litigation to stop the LAFCO process.
MVWD has performed a year-long environmental study on their sewer service application with LAFCO. The City of Chino has threatened to sue LAFCO in an utter abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act to stop sewer service for thousands of current and future residents and businesses, a service they have refused to provide or even plan for almost 30 years.
It is time for the elected officials of Chino to stop playing games with people’s futures. MVWD is ready to provide services that thousands of residents and every water user of the Chino Basin desperately need for the future of our water quality.
Monte Vista Water District is doing the right thing for our neighbors, our water, and our future while others with the capacity to fix these problems have refused to act, for decades.
Tell our elected leaders in Chino to stop using our tax dollars in frivolous lawsuits.
Paul A. Rodriguez