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CVWD has served as a steward of the Coachella Valley’s groundwater resources for more than 100 years. Ensuring that a reliable supply of water is available for the Valley’s future families and businesses is a cornerstone of the CVWD’s mission to the communities it serves.
The Replenishment Assessment Charge, or RAC, is a key component of the Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update and Mission Creek Water Management Plan Update, blueprints for ensuring there is a reliable and sustainable long-term supply of high quality water for the Coachella Valley. The RAC generates revenue from large groundwater producers, such as water agencies, golf courses, and agriculture to fund the replenishment of groundwater with imported water. The RAC also funds important projects and programs to protect and conserve groundwater supplies and reduce groundwater pumping. This includes the expansion of the canal water delivery system to reduce or eliminate groundwater pumping for non-potable uses like agricultural, golf course, and landscape irrigation.
For many years, the amount of water used from the aquifer has exceeded the natural replenishment of the aquifer. This imbalance caused an “overdraft” of the Coachella Valley groundwater basin. Overdrafting a groundwater basin causes water levels to drop and can have serious consequences, including increased pumping costs for all water users, land subsidence and water quality issues. The 2022 Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update and Mission Creek Water Management Plan Update guide CVWD in its efforts to eliminate overdraft and comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Replenishing the aquifer with imported water is a critical means for achieving this.
RAC payers are those entities that use a well or multiple wells that collectively pump more than 25 acre-feet of water from the aquifer in any year. This is the equivalent of 8,146,275 gallons of water in any year.
Examples of RAC payers include public water system purveyors including the Coachella Valley Water District, and entities that own, lease or operate farms, nurseries, golf courses or large irrigated areas (about 5 acres) where their wells produce more than 25 acre-feet of groundwater in any year.
If you don’t have a private well, or you pump 25-acre feet or less of water from the aquifer in a year, you don’t pay the RAC. You would be required to pay the RAC in the future if you begin to use a well or other facility to produce that much water.
Within the service boundaries of CVWD there are three Areas of Benefit where RACs are imposed. The district sets a different rate for each Area of Benefit based on the costs of the specific replenishment projects and programs provided in each area.
The RAC is charged on a per acre-foot of pumped groundwater basis. The current RACs in each Area of Benefit are:
CVWD strives to control costs and make prudent investments to provide the highest level of service and value to our customers. To do so, CVWD maintains a long-range financial plan that is updated on a regular basis to capture all of its costs, identify opportunities for reducing cost increases, and ensure that sufficient revenues are available to provide groundwater replenishment services. The goal is to develop rates that treat customers fairly, reflect the proportional costs of service, and maintain financial stability.
RAC increases reflect rising costs to CVWD of replenishing the aquifer with imported water supplies, including imported water costs and operational and maintenance costs for groundwater replenishment facilities. RAC increases also cover the costs of capital investments for infrastructure that are necessary to replenish the basin and implement source substitution programs that reduce groundwater pumping. In the West Whitewater River Subbasin AOB, this includes the construction of Phase 2 of the Palm Desert Groundwater Replenishment Facility that will allow CVWD to increase the use of Canal water for replenishment. In the East Whitewater River Subbasin AOB, this includes source substitution through a direct connection to the Mid Valley Pipeline and the Oasis In-Lieu Project.