By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher– At the regular board meeting of the Inyokern Community Services District (ICSD) on Wednesday, August 16th, a customer of the district, Linda Sapp, complained to the board about the inequity of water charges.
Sapp stated that she had been paying off of her meter for 40 years. She said, “This last year, I paid more than $800, and so far this year, $467.80.” She noted that at least 70% of the ICSD customers are on a flat rate and pay only $27.40 plus the $9 fee to the Indian Wells Valley Ground Water Authority (IWVGA). She said, “My other neighbors in Inyokern are telling me that they pay approximately $36 per month. That is $27 plus the $9 IWVGA fee.”
On July 17, 2023, Sapp requested the board that she be placed on a flat rate like the other 70% of the customers. There are currently 280 ICSD customers. At the August meeting, Tim Carroll, acting board president, told Sapp that he agreed that it was unfair, but if they put everyone on a flat rate, they would have to close their doors. He said that the general manager, who also takes care of the repairs and leaks in the district, only works part-time. He is replacing meters as fast as he can. Carroll said the current plan is to replace a couple of meters each month.
A long-time resident Tommy Thompson, who was in attendance at the August meeting, said he had been on a flat rate for 40 years. He added that he would like a meter to pay his fair share. The four attending board members were polled and are all paying the flat rate of approximately $27 plus the $9 fee to the IWVGA.
Carroll stated that currently, the ICSD is trying to borrow $70,000 from the California Rural Water Association. He also stated that at some point, the IWVGA gave money to the California Rural Water Association to install meters in Inyokern, plus some small mutuals. For some reason, the money never got to the ICSD. Carroll explained that “the GA has sued the ICSD for $20,000 for the extraction fee. They did not ever talk to us about that. We had hoped that they would so we could explain our situation. They said either pay the $20,000 or turn the water off. We could not afford to pay the $20,000, and we did not turn the water off.” Carroll said, “It was my understanding that the GA was supposed to find out from the State Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to find out what were the needs for the valley, and the GA was supposed to plan accordingly, but instead, they just decided to shut the water off from some people to sustain the water supply for others. We paid the extraction fee to the GA for about a year and a half when it was first requested. We then voted to decline to pay the fee and sent them a letter stating that. We presumed they would get back in touch with us so we could explain our situation. They never contacted us, just filed the lawsuit. We cannot afford an attorney. We hope we can get a funding source or a grant to place meters and do needed repairs. The bottom line is we may be forced to shut down. We’re not sure what the alternative would be.”