Severe California Storms Impacting Coachella Valley Water

Carmela Karcher

From extreme drought to extreme flooding in a matter of days.

In one of the driest states in the west, water can be seen sitting across much of California.

Here in the desert, we are feeling the impact.

“Our stormwater crews are diverting water from what we call the main channel to the overflow channel, also known as the whitewater storm channel,” Coachella Valley Water District Communications Specialist Lorraine Garcia explained. “They’re diverting water from the main channel to the whitewater storm channel as a standard procedure to protect the facility.”

The percolation ponds on the west side of the wash are used to recharge the aquifer.

But now that the valley is also getting an influx of water, CVWD is forced to divert flows downstream since too much runoff can actually destroy the ponds and prevent aquifer recharge, causing Indian Canyon Dr. to shut down.

But this has its benefits.

“The water that flows through the storm water channel actually flows to the Salton Sea,” Garcia continued. “Our biggest concern and our job is to carry away that flood water because it comes really fast. We want to make sure that we’re diverting that into that stormwater channel, which is there to divert all that water into one place and away from everyone’s homes and businesses for everyone’s safety.”

In a matter of two weeks, much of California went from an extreme and exceptional drought to a moderate drought.

But even with all this rain, conservation is still key.

“It’s just not enough to replenish everything we’re taking out,” Garcia said. “The way to offset that is through conservation and being mindful with our water.”

Regardless, rain is a good thing.

“More rain, precipitation and snowfall in Northern California means we get more of our supplies down here as well for replenishment,” Garcia shared.

CVWD does collect some rainwater at the facility when the storms are mild, otherwise the district has to move it away from the channel.

As of now, the water district says they will continue diverting water downstream until Tuesday of next week, meaning water will potentially flow across Indian Canyon Dr. for a few days after the rain stops.

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