Mojave Water Agency begins delivering imported water to thirsty basin near Barstow

Rene Ray De La Cruz
Victorville Daily Press

The Mojave Water Agency began delivering imported water last week to a storage aquifer near Barstow, bringing welcome relief to the water table there that has hit a record low.

The Mojave Water Agency began delivering imported water last week to a storage aquifer at the Centro Basin near Barstow, to bring relief to the low water table there.

The MWA Board of Directors unanimously approved the delivery of 5,000-acre-feet of water to the Centro Basin during its April 28 board meeting.

The Centro Basin is one of five subareas or sub-basins, which are defined and separated in part by earthquake faults and other geological features but also are interconnected to some extent, water engineers say.

The subareas are referred to in the Mojave River Basin adjudication that MWA administers as the area's water master. There also are several "transitional zones" that have been identified.

The Centro Subarea area serves Barstow, Lenwood, Hinkley and Kramer Junction. The sub-basin has maintained a relatively stable mix of agricultural and urban use.

On May 9, the water began being transferred from the MWA’s reserve storage account in the San Luis Reservoir via the California Aqueduct, which is part of the State Water Project.

In drought-stricken California:Millions face unprecedented order to conserve water

This process, called groundwater recharge, releases water into the Mojave River. The water infiltrates through the riverbed into the aquifer below, refilling the groundwater basin and raising the water table.

“Recharging basins is part of the Mojave Water Agency’s mission to collaboratively manage groundwater basins sustainably, import water responsibly, and address risks proactively using sound science,” said MWA Board President Jeanette Hayhurst.

With initial delivery flows beginning at 10 cubic feet per second, recharging 5,000 acre-feet of water is expected to take several months.

Agency staff will monitor the groundwater recharge effort and adjust the flows as needed for the most efficient delivery.

Currently, in an extended multi-year drought, California experienced its driest three months in recent history at the beginning of 2022.

What drought?:California residents used more water in March than any month of March since 2015

Recharging the groundwater is part of the MWA’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan within its Urban Water Management Plan, which was created specifically for dry seasons such as this.

“This water delivery will certainly provide some relief to the Centro Basin, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stay vigilant about conserving water,” said Hayhurst. “We should all continue to do our part.”

The five subareas bear Spanish names that refer to their general geological relationships to the flow of the Mojave River, or its mountain headwaters — alto (upper), este (east), oeste (west), centro (central) and baja (lower).

  • Alto Subarea: The Alto Subarea encompasses most of the populous Victor Valley and its waters serve Summit Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, Adelanto, Apple Valley, Oak Hills, Phelan and Helendale.
  • Este Subarea: To the east of the Alto Subarea is the Este Subarea, serving Lucerne Valley and its rural surrounds.
  • Oeste Subarea: The Oeste Subarea, to the west of Phelan, serves Pinon Hills and El Mirage. It is largely served by the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District, which has purchased some former dairies for their water rights.
  • Baja Subarea: Farthest downriver, the Baja Subarea includes Daggett, Yermo and Newberry Springs. The flow of Mojave River Basin water ends at Afton Canyon.

For conservation tips or more information on how the MWA is serving the area during this unprecedented drought, visit

Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz