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The unfortunate consequences of a politically driven policy

Let’s look at how different our situation would have been had our basin not been re-classified as Critically Overdrafted for the sake of a Department of Water Resources (DWR) grant for $250,000.

First, we would have an additional two years before the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) was due. That would have given us time for exploration to find out what our available water resources might be.

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) would not have been permitted to impose the Replenishment Fee that would have saved the District ratepayers $12 million. The District will pay two million five hundred thousand dollars in 2024. We would also have saved millions of dollars that have been spent on attorney fees.

Hopefully, we will continue to explore what our available resources are.

Jean Moran, a leading geologist who works with Steve Johnson of Stetson Engineers on the GSP, asked the News-Review to take her for a tour of Indian Wells Canyon. After the tour, she sat in my living room (I live in Indian Wells Canyon) and said, “I can’t believe how much water is in this canyon.”

Bear in mind there are several canyons above Hwy 14, and last I heard, water runs downhill, so we have no idea how much water comes from these canyons entering into this Basin.

Also, we have no idea how much water is stored in the granitics. We are recognized as one of the most tectonic regions in the state. Up north, in the area of Cinder Cone Mountain, we are told that the ground never stops shaking, registering about 1.2 continuously on the Richter scale.

Another thing that’s important to understand is that we are not a Closed Basin, as the Todd Engineers report states. According to the China Lake Environmental Impact Statement of August 2012, research at that time indicates that the Lahontan Groundwater Basin is not a closed basin, and the recharge to the basin is greater than indicated in previous studies. The report also states that areas where larger production wells are located exhibit decreases of about 2.0ft per year (FPY) (not 2.5 FPY, which is currently being reported). In contrast, areas of no production show a slight decline in water levels of about 0.20 to 0.30 FPY.  The Northwest area, for a period of nearly 40 years, had an average decline of 5” plus or minus per year. While the intermediate area has shown increases. The well is located to the west of Ridgecrest near the new IWVWD production wells; from Spring 2022 to Spring 2023, the groundwater level increased 0.98 feet and 0.14 feet at the shallow and deep piezometers, respectively.  At the mid-piezometer, a water level decline of 1.64 feet was observed during that same one-year period. The wells are located along Business Highway 395 to the east of Inyokern, in the vicinity of IWVWD pumping wells; from Spring 2022 to Spring 2023, the water level rose 18.36 feet, 6.92 feet, and 0.34 feet in the shallow, mid, and deep piezometers, respectively.

The Environmental Impact Statement also states that without any changes to production and recharge rates, the IWV is projected to continue to meet demands for another 60 to 70 years. If certain management activities are implemented, the IWV could meet demands for 160 years.

The scare tactics that have been imposed on the residents of the IWV are reprehensible.

Patricia Farris Publisher