Gleason responds to concerns about local control over groundwater

Gleason responds to concerns about local control over groundwaterBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason, who also chairs the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Board, recently went on record responding to criticisms from IWV Water District Board members that the county was “running the show” when it came to groundwater management efforts for the IWV.

Kern County is one of five voting public agencies on the IWVGA – the others being Ridgecrest, the IWVWD and counties of San Bernardino and Inyo. IWVWD Director Chuck Griffin recently brought attention to the fact that the IWVGA chair, general manager, recorder and original Policy Advisory Committee facilitator all live “over the mountain.”

“For the past two and half years, the county has been taking on the leadership role in trying to get IWV to understand and come to grips with this new state mandate,” said Gleason. “We’ve done that by taking the lead on the development of this GSA. It’s been the county that has towed the largest burden in getting us to this point.”

He said that the plan has been for the county to recede its position in “taking point” and for local agencies to take over.

Gleason also responded to IWVWD directors’ complaints that they do not receive IWVGA agendas in time to discuss topics with IWVWD President Peter Brown, their representative on the authority.

According to Gleason, individual membership agency boards shouldn’t be giving their representatives direction on how to vote before meetings, despite this being a long-promised policy during discussions of how the Groundwater Sustainability Agency would operate.

“If they have their minds made up, then the public doesn’t have the chance to make a presentation and influence the decision of the board members,” Gleason said.

“It needs to be discussed…but I’m not sure I disagree with him,” said Mayor Peggy Breeden, IWVGA rep for the city. “Otherwise, if we’re instructed how to vote by our boards and then we hear an excellent argument to the contrary, I can’t even change my vote because the board hasn’t instructed me to.”

Brown said he agreed with Gleason that IWVGA board members shouldn’t go into a meeting with a “preordained idea” of how to vote.

“And it wasn’t right to criticize the county,” he added. “That’s never a win for anybody…it just creates ill will.”

Both Breeden and Brown said they would continue discussions with their respective boards on how to treat and define “direction” from their fellow boardmembers regarding IWVGA matters.

Story First Published: 2017-07-28