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Riverside sues state over demand for 28% cut in water use

Riverside sues state water board over call for 28% cut in water use

The city of Riverside has filed a suit to bar the state from imposing mandatory drought restrictions on it, saying it has its own plentiful groundwater.

City officials say they have an independent supply and no plans to import water and therefore shouldn’t be subjected to a state directive to cut water use 28%.

The city’s supply comes from treated groundwater and is owned independently, said Heather Raymond, a spokeswoman for Riverside Public Utilities, the city’s water and electric utility.

“We have our own wells and our own water resources,” Raymond said. “No matter how much we save it has zero effect on the state water supply.”

Michael Lauffer, chief counsel for the State Water Resources Control Board, said in a statement that the agency hasn't been served with the suit and that he was unable to comment on it.

However, he said, all communities must pitch in to reduce water.

"Groundwater for many areas is the savings account available during times of drought, and the limited, 4% reduction tier is not available for communities who are relying on that savings account to weather the drought," he said.

A complaint filed last week in Fresno County Superior Court asks a judge to impose a temporary restraining order and injunction against the state rules.

City officials say that earlier this year they petitioned the state, asking to be included in a 4% conservation tier that was set up for localities with independent supplies of surface water.  

“Our request was ignored and no evidence was given us to why including groundwater suppliers would be any more difficult that including surface water suppliers,” the city said in a statement.

The city is currently considering several proposed water restrictions, including allowing watering only three days a week in the summer and twice a week in the winter, Raymond said.

Those proposals are expected to go before the City Council later this month. It’s unclear what will happen to them if the lawsuit is successful, she said.

The city “of course wants to be a good community partner and save as much as we can,” she said. “Riverside’s goal is to be recognized as a city that isn’t a burden on the state water supply.”

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