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Aquifer at Risk: Twitter chat raises more questions about desert water supply

September 11th, 2013 | by Ian James | Comments

Yesterday we tried an experiment and hosted an online Twitter chat to talk about water in the Coachella Valley and our series focusing on long-term declines in the desert aquifer.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (@AguaCalienteNDN) participated directly, while the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency provided responses that were included in the discussion. Twitter users were able to follow along using the hashtag #CVwater.

Comments ranged from questions about the water demands of new housing developments to criticisms of the water agencies’ support for the delta tunnels plan to bring more water from Northern California.

I posed one question that regularly has come up since the tribe sued the water agencies over rights to groundwater: What would the tribe do differently? A response from Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe was soon posted on Twitter: “The biggest difference is the Tribe would look at resolving these issues today, not put it off for future generations.”

One user criticized the water agencies’ practice of trading away their allotments of water from the State Water Project for “dirty” water from the Colorado River.

CVWD replied: “Colorado River water isn’t dirty.” The water agency also said that “fixing the Delta will increase the reliability of the imported supply.”

DWA, for its part, responded to questions about imported Colorado River water by providing a link to a water quality fact sheet.

The Southern California Water Committee, which counts both DWA and CVWD among its members, tweeted in their defense, saying the water they supply meets all federal and state quality requirements.

The regional organization also took issue with the tribe’s concerns about higher levels of salinity in imported Colorado River water that is used to recharge the aquifer. Summing up its stance, it said: “33 million people rely on the CO River for drinking water & many CA water districts use it to recharge their basins.”

Read the full Twitter chat here:

Any other comments or questions about the series Aquifer at Risk or about water in the desert? If so, email me at ian.james@thedesertsun.com or contact me on Twitter at @TDSIanJames.

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