To the Editor: Concerned about overdraft

I’m writing this because I am becoming concerned by the lack of awareness on the part of numerous residents of IWV in regards to our critically overdrafted aquifer.  I recently talked to a Ridgecrest businessman who seemed to be totally ignorant of the condition.

Using forecasted water usage numbers provided by Mojave Pistachios, coupled with alfalfa usage, with appropriate scaling factors, it is relatively easy to compute a population number that would be equivalent to the drain on the aquifer being caused by the current IWV agriculture.  Data provided by Mojave Pistachios, out through 2025, show that the number of additional people required to just use the same amount of water as that consumed by Ag comes to some 25,000.  In other words, if we reduced the agriculture to zero and instead introduced 25,000 additional water-using people to the valley, the effect on the aquifer would be the same.  Note also that 25,000 theoretical people are not people who shop, buy, visit or contribute to our society.  They only consume water, which effectively doubles the drain on the aquifer.

Few people have read the Todd Report, which was produced by contract to the county.  The report specifically states that we meet the accepted definition of critical overdraft.  The California Water Plan Bulletin 118-80 defines the critical condition of overdraft as follows:

“A critical condition of overdraft exists when it is evident that continuation of present water management practices will result in significant negative impacts upon environmental, social, or economic conditions at a local, regional, or State level.”

Our current zoning allows unlimited pumping of water from the aquifer on the west side of the valley, and we are obviously headed toward significant negative economic impacts.

Note also that the agriculture acreage is presently expanding beyond the acreage used in the above calculation.

Note also that the county supervisors ignored a recommendation by the Todd Report to produce a moratorium on agriculture expansion!  Their present plan is to “Produce a plan to focus discussions on water and trails.”

If the people in the valley don’t get involved, the availability of potable water is going to disappear.

Stuart Fields

Story First Published: 2014-06-25