What lies beneath March Air Reserve Base could threaten the future of one of the Inland Empire’s biggest employers, local officials warn.
Groundwater levels under and around the base have risen to the point where it makes construction more expensive and could limit the base’s ability to handle certain aircraft, said Paul Jones, general manager of the Eastern Municipal Water District.
In an emailed statement, a base spokesperson said that in the past few years, “We have observed a substantial increase in groundwater levels under the installation in spite of drought conditions.”
“We continue to closely monitor these water levels and are working with Air Force and the State of California Department of Water Resources subject matter experts to evaluate causes and implement appropriate mitigation measures,” the statement read.
In an emailed statement, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, whose district includes the base, said: “Certainly, any threat to the March’s long-term viability is of great concern to our community. Given the significance of March to military readiness and national security, it would make sense for the Air Force to provide funding and support to ensure the base can effectively continue its mission.
“I’ve been engaged on water issues surrounding the base since I first entered office, including calling for a study to protect groundwater in the area,” Takano added. “And I will continue to work with local and federal officials to address water-related issues at the base.”
On Sept. 12, Riverside County supervisors unanimously supported forming a partnership of state, federal and local agencies to address rising groundwater. Supervisor Marion Ashley, whose district includes March, worries high groundwater levels could work against the base in another round of base closures.
“It’s creating a real danger to the future of the base,” he said at the meeting.
A fixture on the Inland landscape since World War I, the base has trained…