By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher–
At the regular board meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Water District on January 8th, it was announced that the water district will be going to a 4/10 work-week schedule, which means beginning on that date, they will be closed every Friday.
The only legal action taken was the approval of the 2023 Draft Water Shortage Contingency Plan.
The Water District approved a revised Water Shortage Contingency Plan. Director Rajtora was the only dissenting vote. First and foremost, he was concerned about the possible appearance of a lack of transparency. He had not had the time to thoroughly review the document. The primary document is 58 pages and the total package is 570 pages. Secondarily he believed the scope of the Board document review should have included possible revisions due to recent changes in customer water demand. During public comment, Robert Blackwell, representing the Kawaiisu Tribe, protested the Water District’s paintings on the walls and the two pieces of Petroglyph art outside the Water District office. He stated that the City had ignored the tribe’s objection to plagiarizing the Petroglyph’s native art; he said they were never authorized by the tribe. The Petroglyph art was created by the Kawaiisu tribe and other nations. He said, “To resell the art after 1990 as fake Native art is illegal; more importantly, there are other provisions in the Federal and State law that basically protect Native IP and their culture. I’m here tonight to say this is not about money. It’s about protecting the culture.
“We have had extremely good responses from everyone in the community except the City Council. They want to ignore this issue, but we will not be ignored. Originally, all we asked the City Council for was a joint severance of the art with the nations to identify the pieces that were extremely objectionable to them.
“The Petroglyphs are not just drawings; they are history, religion, and mathematics; they’re their whole culture. To take it out of context or put this upside down or sideways. It would be unacceptable to this community to take a crucifix with Christ on it to flip it upside down and have a dog sniffing Christ’s head, so I did not understand their issues a year ago. I have gotten to understand them better now.
“It is very hard for people who are not nations to understand what art means. It’s also hard for us to understand what may not be insulting to you but is insulting to them. I just wanted to come out and let you know the issues that we have. I didn’t know if you had any questions. It is not about money, money has nothing to do with it. It’s about protecting and respecting the local Tribe.”
Also, Judi Decker, a former Water District board member, during public comment, stated, “I would like to tell you how disappointed I am in the five Board members and the Water District manager that you would release a press release about a study and new data that shows almost 100% increase in safe yield.
“You did not allow anyone to see it; it is not only disappointing but is unprofessional,” she said. “The four of you Board members sitting here tonight all have college degrees. You all remember how important data was to doing any kind of research. You are denying this data for others to review and perhaps use in the next chapter of the groundwater model that the Groundwater Authority has hired Desert Research Institute out of the University of Nevada to do.
“It is just not right. Since I mentioned George, I felt that the column you had in the paper recently was very disappointing in that you spent about two-thirds of it criticizing the GA without talking about the District itself.
“You did not mention what Mike Neel just mentioned about the ridiculous 55 gallons of water a day per person. You did not mention the critical problem we have that you are going to have to solve with the lack of the 178 highway pipeline.
“You never told the public, not just here but other board members and other managers, just what the drawdown situation of the Water District’s groundwater wells is. I’m disappointed in you.” she said.