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Inyo County Supports Water Infrastructure Bill

Funding for Improvements Will Help Further Wildfire Protection Efforts

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Inyo County Supports Water Infrastructure Bill 

Funding for Improvements Will Help Further Wildfire Protection Efforts

As part of its mission to help strengthen wildfire response efforts, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors extends  its support to Senate Bill 1088, as currently written and as it aligns with fire prevention goals, including those  identified in a draft countywide plan outlining ways to prepare for, reduce the risk of, and adapt to wildfire fire  events.

Introduced by Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, SB 1088 would provide more state matching funding for water system  infrastructure improvements for wildfire defense within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Developing and/or  upgrading water sources for fire suppression is listed as a key recommendation for safe and effective wildfire  response in the draft 2024 Inyo County Community Wildfire Prevention Plan (CWPP), out for public review March  7 through April 15.

An in-person kickoff to the review period for the CWPP will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at the  Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation Tribal Wellness Center, 1145 E-Sha Rd., Lone Pine. All community  members – full- and part-time residents, property owners, individuals in the workforce – are encouraged to  participate.

The draft CWPP and related documents can be found at https://inyo-county-cwpp-inyocounty.hub.arcgis.com/,  where feedback can also be submitted. The draft plan was developed in collaboration with numerous community  groups, agencies, and Tribal governments. The document reviews, verifies, and/or identifies potential priority areas  where mitigation measures are needed to protect from wildfire the irreplaceable life, property, and critical  infrastructure in the community.

Supporters of SB 1088 have pointed out that aging infrastructures, combined with insufficient resources to prepare  for adequate wildfire response, has left many rural communities at high risk for further unchecked fire activity. A  2023 Community Hazards Assessment analyzed 41 different communities/enclaves within Inyo County, giving five  an “extreme” risk rating, 10 a “moderate” risk rating, and 26 a “high” risk rating. According to the draft CWPP, water  systems in many of these communities are incapable of providing water flowrates and capacities to meet  firefighting requirements to protect communities during catastrophic wildfire events.

“Broadly speaking, the larger communities in Inyo County have dependable water sources and infrastructure, the  smallest communities generally depend on individual wells for residences and lack a hydrant system,” the CWPP  states. “Where community water systems exist, maintenance of the network of water mains and fire hydrants likely  does not receive adequate attention because of budgetary constraints.”

SB 1088, as currently written, would open the door to critical funding for water infrastructure improvements  throughout Inyo County. It is a stated goal of the Board of Supervisors, in its Legislative Platform, to support programs  that help prevent, mitigate, and respond to wildfires.

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