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Groundwater Authority presses WD for new basin data

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher

Last week, The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) sent a letter to The Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) requesting public records regarding their new survey that claims that The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin has significantly more water than previously thought.

The complete letter from the GA is printed below.


Referencing the subject:

California Public Records Act Request- “New data shows significantly more water available in IWV.” Dear Indian Wells Valley Water District, This letter is being tendered on behalf of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (“Authority”) to request access to public records in accordance with the California Public Records Act (CPRA), California Government Code sections 6250 et seq. In November, the Indian Wells Valley Water District (“District”) issued a press release entitled “New data shows significantly more water available in IWV.” The release references a new report prepared by a Working Group, including the District, that claims that the Basin’s sustainable yield should be 13,400 acre-feet per year and that there are 40 million acre-feet of fresh groundwater in storage. The Working Group includes the largest groundwater pumpers in the Basin, including agricultural operations such as Mojave Pistachios. The Authority is in the process of preparing its five-year update to its Groundwater Sustainability Plan (“GSP”). As you know, the purpose of the GSP is to analyze the conditions of the groundwater basin and to provide projects to eliminate the chronic lowering of groundwater levels that the Basin has experienced over decades. The GSP is a living document, and the Authority has a responsibility to assess any new data so that the GSP is periodically updated to reflect the best scientific conclusions. We are currently gathering data for the five-year update to the GSP, which should be completed early next year. At the Authority’s December meeting, your representative, Chuck Griffin, indicated that your new report would be very helpful to the Authority in preparing the GSP update. However, when other board members requested to see the new report, it was not clear that the District could produce the materials absent a formal request since these materials had been jointly prepared with other litigants for the purpose of generating evidence to support a legal challenge against the GSP. Therefore, we formally request that you provide the following materials pursuant to the CPRA: 1. Any analyses, studies, or data referenced in the press release titled “New data shows significantly more water available in IWV,” including but not limited to: 100 West California Avenue Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (805)764-5452 www.IWVGA.org a. Hydrological or geological studies assessing groundwater levels, safe yield, and sustainable pumping rates in the Indian Wells Valley Basin. b. Hydrological or geological studies assessing groundwater storage in Indian Wells Valley Basin. c. Reports or studies evaluating the methodologies and data sources used to arrive at the conclusions mentioned in the press release regarding increased water availability. d. Any reports or studies assessing the impact of continued groundwater mining on groundwater levels and the detriment to small well owners, which should include: i. Reports or studies conducted by or on behalf of the Indian Wells Valley Water District that analyze the potential adverse consequences of sustained overdraft and increased pumping on groundwater levels. ii. Any studies or assessments that specifically address the adverse effects on small well owners, including impacts on water quality, well stability, or access to groundwater resources. iii. Documents evaluating potential mitigation measures or strategies to address the harm to small well owners caused by groundwater mining. 2. Correspondence, emails, memoranda, or meeting minutes related to the Working Group of large pumpers responsible for the report, including: a. Any emails or written communications exchanged between members of the Working Group and representatives of the Indian Wells Valley Water District. b. Memoranda or reports generated by the Working Group outlining their methodology, findings, and recommendations regarding safe yield. c. Meeting minutes or records of discussions held between the Working Group and the Indian Wells Valley Water District, including any agreements or commitments made during these meetings. d. Copies of any agreements, contracts, or memoranda of understanding between the Indian Wells Valley Water District and the significant pumpers regarding any joint effort to between the Water District and other large pumpers to challenge the Groundwater Sustainability Plan in court for the purpose of allowing additional groundwater production from the Basin. Please provide these records in digital format. If you claim that any of the requested records are exempt from disclosure under the CPRA, please provide a written explanation for the exemption. Given the tight deadlines for our GSP update, we kindly request that you provide the requested documents within ten calendar days of receiving this request, as required by law. If you have any questions or need further clarification regarding this request, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to receiving the requested records in a timely manner. Sincerely, Carol Thomas-Keefer, General Manager of Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority.

Indian Wells Valley Water District Manager George Croll told The News Review that the District is unable to release the data to the GA as the report does not belong to the District.

The report belongs to the Working Group, which includes the major Groundwater pumpers in the Basin. This includes agricultural operations such as Mojave Pistachios.