Water meetings tackle funding opportunities

Water meetings tackle funding opportunitiesBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority and its Policy Advisory Committee met last week and discussed acquisition of Proposition 1 grant funding to work toward a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the IWV. In addition to funding discussions, the authority also approved new independent legal counsel and began forming its Technical Advisory Committee, while the PAC addressed concerns of representation for disadvantaged communities.

When the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act passed in 2014, the state also offered funding sources through Prop 1 for the development of GSPs, said IWVGA General Manager Alan Christensen during the 10 a.m. meeting Thursday, July 20.

Christensen reported that the authority was aggressively pursuing these funds in an effort to avoid putting additional costs on IWV residents. While the authority has a “pretty good shot” at receiving grant funds, he added that the process would be very competitive.

The authority tasked its newly formed TAC with continuing to pursue grant opportunities. The committee includes Eddy Teasdale and Wade Major representing large agriculture, Michael Powell for residential customers, Don Decker for domestic well owners, Earl Wilson for the East Kern County Resource Conservation District and Adam Bingham for industrial users, with the IWV Water District’s Renee Morquecho and Navy’s Stephan Bork as nonvoting members.

Immediately prior to the IWVGA’s meeting, the PAC also held a meeting where Prop 1 funding was a topic of discussion – specifically qualifying for funds from a $10-million reserve for disadvantaged communities. The 11-member advisory board is seeking two additional members to represent disadvantaged communities.

Initially the PAC asked Committee Chair Donna Thomas, rep for the EKCRCD, to pull double duty as a disadvantaged communities’ representative. But Thomas recommended that the PAC seek the Inyokern Community Services District to fill that role.

Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt objected on the grounds that the additional number would result in an even-numbered PAC membership, susceptible to tie votes. The board settled on a motion to pursue two representatives, one from the Inyokern CSD and another from Trona. The motion was passed unanimously.

The IWVGA also found new legal counsel in James Markman of Richards, Watson & Gershon. The call for independent legal counsel to prevent bias in possible disputes between any of the IWVGA’s member agencies has been strong since the board’s formation. The board had been rotating between County Legal Counsel Phil Hall and Ridgecrest’s City Attorney Keith Lemieux.

The IWVWD’s Groundwater Committee met Thursday afternoon at the Water District Office to discuss IWVGA activity and potentially rescind and replace its current watering ordinance. Details were not available at press time.

The authority’s PAC board has a meeting scheduled for Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Water District Office. The agenda includes a presentation from Kennedy/Jenks Consultants on grant-funding opportunities and deadlines and a proposed meeting schedule for the remainder of 2017.

Story First Published: 2017-07-28