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Phelan Pinon Hills CSD buys water rights for $10M
District purchases water from El Mirage, Wrightwood
PHELAN • The Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District dished out $10.75 million to secure the area’s water future for decades to come.
The purchase includes 2,335 shares of water rights in the Oestre Aquifer, also known as Meadowbrook Dairy, a well and 160 acres of land, according to a district press release. Oeste is comprised of two areas, with the upper area beginning under the community of Wrightwood and the lower level in the El Mirage area.
A low-interest iBank loan of $7.5 million and $3.25 million in cash from district reserves will finance the purchase, according to a statement from the CSD.
An additional 309 acres were donated to the district after the purchase, according to Don Bartz, the district’s general manager.
“Already owning 1,416 acre feet of Oeste water, this move by the board means we now own 3,751 versus a historical demand of about 2,725 acre feet,” Bartz said. “This will eliminate the need to negotiate water leases as we have for three years.”
After the loan is paid off, the district will save more than $20 million over the next 30 years.
“Additionally, potential income from private and public uses of some of the land means it is very probable that the district may be able to add much wanted programs, pay for infrastructure improvements and many other possibilities to benefit the community,” Bartz said.
With a 20 percent reduction of permitted use from Mojave Water Agency’s Watermaster looming on the horizon — on top of a 20 percent reduction several years ago — the district’s board felt the move was a necessary and strategic opportunity.
The move comes on the heels of the city of Hesperia recently agreeing to pay $30 million to buy permanent rights it had been leasing from a private owner, with more public agencies looking to cut costs and eliminate dependency on outside sources.
For more information on the Phelan Pinon Hills CSD deal, visit www.pphcsd.org or call (760) 868-1212.
Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.
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