Life after drought: what’s next?

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

With Gov. Jerry Brown declaring an official end to the prolonged emergency resulting from a historic drought in the Golden State, officials are pondering how to move forward with a longterm management plan for water.

With record-breaking precipitation falling in sections of the Sierra Nevada, a new challenge that has arisin is how to capitalize on the influx of snowmelt that has already started making its way south — including vast amounts collecting in the Indian Wells Valley.

Under these new conditions, many are even questioning the hasty implementation of the recently approved IWV Groundwater Authority, established to meet requirements of the State Groundwater Management Act. “To my knowledge, the impact of the drought status change has no impact on the [Groundwater Sustainability Agency] formation,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason, chair of the IWVGA Board. “The GSA formation has been assigned to us by the state and until the SGMA changes, the GSA marches on.”

“I don’t see that it changes anything,” said IWV Water District General Manager Don Zdeba during an earlier meeting. He continued that it would be “irresponsible” to assume that water restrictions would be relaxed since the IWV basin is classified as being in “critical overdraft” by the DWR.

Gleason also reminded us that the Department of Water Resources has made it clear that “if we don’t fix our problem, the state will take over and they’ll charge us for it.”

Yet while we work on “our problem,” Southern California is receiving more water than it can handle from this past year’s snowpack.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced last week that it would be giving 200,000 acre feet of excess water from the L.A. Aqueduct to Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — that’s enough to supply the water needs of 400,000 homes for a year.

Numbers reported by the IWVWD earlier this month said some 2,000 gallons per minute of water were being flushed from the aqueduct locally, the same weekend the snowpack increased by roughly 3.5 feet.

“It’d be nice if we could dig a really deep pit,” said Director Chuck Griffin. “It’d be nice to try and benefit from this a little.”

IWVWD Counsel Jim Worth said that the water was being spread over an area where theoretically it would percolate down into the aquifer.

The IWVGA cancelled its regular monthly meeting to hold a special workshop meeting on Wednesday, April 26 (see related story). See next week’s News Review for more water news.

Story First Published: 2017-04-21