In the recent editorial “GA members support AB 779”, County Supervisor Phillip Peters and Ridgecrest City Councilman Scott Hayman took the opportunity to lob cheap shots at the very people they’re supposed to be representing by asserting that our water district is somehow averse to anyone – particularly small pumpers – in the basin participating in the water adjudication. Of course, this is demonstrably untrue and worth stating that the Indian Wells Valley Water District continues to fully support all stakeholders participating in water adjudications. It was the water district that hosted public workshops on the adjudication, and it was the water district that worked with the Department of Water and Power (DWR) to help educate the public on the issues facing this basin, all with no assistance from the Groundwater Authority. Contrary to the GA’s assertions, existing laws already include protections for small pumpers, so we simply doubt AB 779 accomplishes anything new other than increasing the time and expense of adjudications.
AB 779 was recently passed with the dubious claim that it allows smaller parties, including small farmers and disadvantaged communities, a voice in adjudication proceedings. However, this is already required under existing rules, and the new law is redundant and not needed. Our primary concern is that the additional bureaucratic procedures required under this new law serve only to increase costs and cause delays for all of us in the basin. The water district is working hard to expeditiously resolve the adjudication, yet the Groundwater Authority’s position seems to be one of delay.
Additionally, it is important to note that under the current Groundwater Authority Plan, there will be no farming in the Indian Wells Valley by 2035. While AB 779 may be designed in theory to protect small farmers, the GA’s decision to ban farming after 2035 makes the Groundwater Authority’s alleged support for small farmers seem questionable at best.
With respect to disadvantaged communities, it is noteworthy that the Groundwater Authority has filed lawsuits against Inyokern Community Services District and Searles Valley Mineral, the domestic water supplier to the community of Trona, both for failure to pay Groundwater Authority fees. We believe it is crucial to understand the consequences and potential repercussions this may have on our community.
To clarify, the Indian Wells Valley Water District’s primary role is to provide high-quality water to our community at the most affordable rates possible. We do not take it upon ourselves to protect or promote farming and mining. However, as an integral part of the community, we firmly believe in fair treatment for all parties involved, including small pumpers, while preserving our region’s economic vitality.
The Indian Wells Valley Water District remains dedicated to delivering affordable, high-quality water to our customers while considering the broader implications of water management and allocation decisions. Our elected representatives should focus on finding affordable solutions to the challenges we face in ensuring water access for all residents of the Indian Wells Valley.
Mallory J. Boyd, President of the Board, IWV Water District