IWVGA submits $2M grant app.

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority submitted its grant proposal earlier this week, requesting $2,146,000 in Proposition 1 funds from the state. The total estimated costs for a Groundwater Sustainability Plan, including money already spent since the board’s formation, are roughly $3,750,000 according to Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden.

The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires that all overdrafted groundwater basins like ours form GSPs within the next few years to halt dropping water tables. To help us in that formation process, we are competing with basins all across the state for grant funds.

According to the state, we should hear back within 60-90 days whether the application has been approved, but Breeden sounded skeptical of that timeline. She said she suspects it will be longer. As a basin designated in “critical overdraft,” our basin is required by the state to have a GSP in place by the summer of 2020.

The local board will also hear reports from its Policy Advisory and Technical Advisory committees. Discussion in both of these meetings has been dominated by confusion regarding what exactly the committees are supposed to be accomplishing.

“There’s some feeling of lack of direction,” said IWV Water District General Manager Don Zdeba during the district’s meeting earlier this week. “Both committees are desiring more direction from the board as to what they should be doing.”

Committees are required to have all agenda discussion items approved by the board ahead of time. But when there’s a delay in response, they feel they have nothing to discuss or work toward. Zdeba said that the TAC is hoping to set in place some long-term goals to accomplish and avoid “what is perceived as the arduous process to get something on the agenda.”

The city is also getting ready to take over the leadership position on the Groundwater Authority. Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason currently serves as chair with most staff responsibilities falling on the county. Breeden expects to take over as chair in January, with some responsibilities switching over to City Manager Ron Strand and staff.

According to Strand, several responsibilities including web maintenance, grant administration and financial reports will remain under the purview of the county.

“It’s just easier at this point for the county to continue managing the funds,” he said.

The following year the leadership position will pass to the Water District before going back to the county in 2020. Other IWVGA member agencies include Inyo and Kern counties with the Navy and the Bureau of Land Management serving as advisory positions.

The board met Thursday morning to discuss these matters but details were not available at press time. A recording of the meeting will be available at www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/media-vault?term=Other.

Story First Published: 2017-11-17