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Don Zdeba, IWV Water District manager, introduced Lisa Beulter, the facilitator for Department of Water Resources (DWR). Chris Ellis, as a group leader, reports on his groups discussion on water issues during the DWR forum Tuesday evening. / Laura Austin Photo

DWR airs concerns on water issues at workshop

By Patricia Farris News Review PublisherA Department of Water Resources (DWR) workshop, hosted by the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) was held at the City Council Chamber Tuesday night, October 4th.

Don Zdeba, IWV Water District manager, welcomed those attending and introduced

Lisa Beulter

Lisa Beulter , the facilitator for DWR.  The DWR, a state agency, has offered facilitation support to help Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) and local water management groups foster discussions among diverse water management interests and jurisdictions. This is in support of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation.

The Indian Wells Valley Water District requested this professional facilitation to support the Basin in discussing challenges related to SGMA. In order to gather this input, facilitators under the direction of Lisa Beulter of DWR has interviewed stakeholders in small groups as well as individuals throughout the community.

The purpose was to provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to share feedback on the potential options the basin should consider moving forward. Beulter presented the high-level findings from the stakeholders and the community survey. Participants joined on-line who could not attend the in-person meeting.

The key themes identified during the stakeholder assessment as having the greatest potential for collaborative discussion were communication, transparency, equity issues regarding Trona and the Inyokern Community Services District (CSD), and best available science.  Also listed was the need of addressing the needs of small water providers (Small Mutuals).

Additional projects and management actions for discussion were imported water, recycled water, waste water and grey water. Conservation, the ramping down of agricultural users, shallow well mitigation, groundwater-dependent eco systems and desalination were also included.

Following the overview from Beutler, the attendees were divided into five discussion groups. They were given assigned questions to discuss, after which the group leaders reported back to the attendees as they recongregated.

Some issues the group leaders reported on were a need for town hall meetings, as it was expressed that the public does not adequately understand the issues, saying that the information relating to the water issue is overwhelming.  Also the lack of transparency on the part of the GA was brought up on several occasions. The need for more data was expressed as a concern among all the groups, as was the need for more exploration led by the GA. The cost for importing more water was also a major concern. The Groundwater Sustainability Plan offers this as the only solution to the sustainability of meeting the groundwater requirements.

More participation from the rate payers as well as the need to get domestic well owners involved was noted. 

The question was raised, who decided which model was used and how did we decide which science to use?

Also questioned was, how are the Replenishment Fees required by the GA being used? Concern was expressed about the lack of transparency and the lack of information being available to the public.

A central medium for communication was suggested as a means to obtain greater public trust, which would in turn encourage more public involvement.

Facilitator Beulter noted that,  “We are not doing something right, or this room would be full. We need to improve our outreach.” She stressed the need for a lot more collaborative communications. “The next step,” she said, “will be to make our findings available to the GA in order to help them identify options for moving forward.”

View the workshop on-line: the workshop was streamed live on the City of Ridgecrest YouTube channel at https.//