Gleason: meters on wells coming this year

By DR. JEANETTE FRANCIS

News Review Correspondent

As part of the ongoing efforts to address state mandates to manage groundwater, Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason said well owners should expect meters to monitor usage sometime this year.

Gleason announced the plan at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Ridgecrest Republican Women, Federated, in a talk that addressed issues of local interest, including budget cuts and groundwater management.

“One of the first things we have to do is understand exactly how much water we are producing and in order to do that we have to put meters on wells,” he said.

“So I suspect, I don’t know this, one of the initial things the GSA is going to do is develop a strategic plan for how we are going to do that, how are we going to put meters on wells, who is going to get meters on wells, what information is going to be collected, where does it get transmitted to, who collects the data, and how do we interpret the data.

“Our wells are going to have to have adjustments made to them in order to accommodate the fact that our water table is in decline,” he said.

Gleason said in a follow-up interview that the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater authority, a body of representatives from local agencies tasked with enforcing sustainability, “is going to have to develop a water budget, and in order to develop a budget you need to know what is going in and what is going out. The only way to do that from my understanding is to put meters on wells.”

Gleason stated in his talk that the decision to put meters on wells is a conversation for the GSA board to have, and to Gleason’s knowledge the board has not discussed a plan for putting meters on wells. “I wanted to get it out into the public so that they can be aware,” Gleason said of the announcement.

Gleason added that he is open to other solutions. “I encourage people to get involved, to read the studies and offer their opinions,” he said. “There is a small, narrow group of people who will resist this state law at any and all opportunities.

“They base their thinking on the fact that we have tons of water and so we don’t need to worry about budgeting, and they so far to date have provided resistance at every step along the way,” Gleason said.

“The only way to shape the conversation is to bring all interests to the board. I?think if people understood more or had a wider perspective — we all understand that it is important to be good stewards of our precious resource and mining water is short-sighted and doomed to failure.

“I think they are trying to do the right thing. I am doubting their understanding, not their motives. I don’t know that they are hearing or understand the facts and I am trying to educate them,” he said.

“The Navy might make decisions that do not reflect our best interest if we don’t enact our own plan,” he added. “We must comply with this law and we must come up with a sustainable plan.”

Story First Published: 2017-03-03