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George Croll / Laura Austin Photo

IWVWD Manager Croll delivers vision at Outlook Conference

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher–  At the recent Economic Outlook Conference, George Croll, the manager of the Indian Wells Valley Water District, introduced his presentation by saying, “Susan, my wife and I are happy to be new residents in Ridgecrest.” He included in his presentation his background experience before coming to Ridgecrest. He served for three years with the EPA in Washington DC, ICBM Test and Evaluation for six years in Vandenberg, Public Works Director for eight years in Vandenberg, Airfare Environmental for seven years in Vandenberg and Mission Control Software Development for three years in Vandenberg. He noted that the Water District has been serving this community for more than 60 years. He said what he hopes to bring to the District is how to operate and maintain a water system with wells and state water, how regulations are developed and implemented, how to solve problems by working with others, and what the pertinent laws that protect our drinking water are.

He stated, “The mission of Indian Wells Valley Water District is to deliver the highest quality of water at the best possible price while continuing to serve as respectful stewards of the environment.”

He listed the District’s priorities as attaining sustainability at the lowest cost to the ratepayers, ensuring compliance with existing and new regulations such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, conservation as a California way of life, and new electric vehicle mandates. Another priority, he said, is continued financial and fiscal responsibility in maintaining and sustaining the Water District infrastructure and taking care of the staff.

He highlighted the impressive conservation of water use from 2007. Also, the Navy’s use has been down significantly over this time frame. He said, “Other state regulations on use per person limits will limit future water use growth.”

The upcoming infrastructure he listed for the present and the future is the upcoming project Northwest Transition Pipeline, the new C-Zone one million gallon tank to replace the tank damage caused by the earthquake. He also announced that there would be a new gateway booster station in the future. He said that all parties agree that the local aquifer is and has been declining for decades. However, the aquifer does still provide high-quality water for most current users. He said, “Not all parties agree on the safe yield on the amount of water in storage, but most parties agree that something needs to be done to slow or stop declining water levels to avoid future problems.”

“Regarding water and the future, yes our basin is in overdraft and we need to correct this. Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires that we correct this. The big question is, is it possible to import water into this valley? Yes, but can all the major players in our current economy afford that water? Not really” he said. “Will compliance with SGMA come at a cost to our local economy? Very likely.” He said.

“The questions we cannot answer are what the economic impact of SGMA will be on the IWV and how much water will be needed to build a strong IWV economy in the future.”

He closed by saying, “Working together, we will resolve our water issues. Like any family, we will debate, argue, and disagree on details, but as a team, we will define and execute the best solutions possible to these complex and costly issues.”