Idyllwild residents need an education in drinking water use on our mountain.
There are four types of drinking water: ground, spring, surface and reclaimed water. Groundwater is by far the cleanest, safest and most reliable to drink with two exceptions: shallow surface wells which require excessive chlorination due to contamination taking surface water masquerading as ground water and super-deep wells penetrating the radioactive band found deep within our mountain. It’s easy to steer clear of these hazards except for a desire to be a cheap water pig.
As for surface and reclaimed water, it’s possible to clean but very expensive to do so, requiring highly technical monitoring with a well-paid experienced staff. Pine Cove Water District has it right using mid-level wells with moderate production. Yes, it costs money to lift and store, but it’s the best option.
Surface water is problematic. You need a right, license or riparian claim, and diversion infrastructure permitting. It’s filthy and dangerous unless heavily treated.
If the state believes you don’t have a right, license, riparian claim and in-stream infrastructure permitting, they will come after you criminally and civilly as a number of individuals/institutions have and are experiencing within Idyllwild.
IWD is a prime example. Its litigation/defense bill will likely exceed $1 million and for what? Filthy, unreliable, substandard water that stops flowing every year that’s stored in a lake that dries up almost just as often and that’s if they win.
Spring water is filthy but effectively unlicensed. It, too, will bring unwanted attention if exported as bottled water companies found to their dismay in Idyllwild, ultimately losing their spring water sources with a landowner stuck holding the litigation bill.
Water production, storage and delivery must have regulated oversight. Sadly, IWD falls short with water quality violations and state investigations.
Most important are current practices. Both IWD and FVWD have no hydrant maintenance program but have increased rates, inferring such a Prop 218 program exists.
Watershed and infrastructure management are only as good as the creatures managing them. IWD is not a capable managing partner.
Jeff Smith
Pine Cove


  1. To state that Fern Valley has no Hydrant Maintenance program is not true. Having lived in Fern Valley since 1987 and on this mountain since 1971, I have been witness to several Hydrant replacements and pipeline upgrades within the Fern Valley Water District. Just saying, Just the Facts!