State Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) used the historic occasion of the introduction of his first bill as a senator to help fulfill promises made to the people of his district two decades ago during construction of Diamond Valley Lake.

Last week, Stone introduced Senate Bill 143, which would allow body contact with the water in DVL, located near Hemet. When DVL opened in 2003, the Metropolitan Water District that owns and operates the lake restricted the 4.5-mile-long lake to fishing only and prohibited all-body contact.

“Promises were made to the people of Hemet, Winchester and Southwest Riverside County when the Metropolitan Water District chose the site for its large reservoir,” said Stone in a press release. “My first bill will ensure there is an opportunity for those promises to finally be kept.”

The availability of swimming will likely attract more visitors to the lake. The intent of the legislation is to open up the surrounding region to economic development and recreational facilities, which residents were promised when the massive man-made lake was proposed in the 1990s.

When DVL — a $2 billion project — was being built in the mid-1990s, MWD officials boasted about recreation facilities planned to surround the reservoir including an Olympic-sized pool, 80 miles of biking and hiking trails, a commercial water park, 500 campsites, slips for 250 boats, golf courses and much more, according to Stone. These facilities, MWD officials said, would attract visitors from across Southern California and beyond.

A dozen years later, few of the promised recreation opportunities exist around the lake.

“My bill will not only help to provide recreational opportunities for families, it will bring good jobs and economic opportunity to the people of Riverside County,” Stone said proudly of his first piece of legislation and stressed that the legislation applies only to DVL.