Groundwater authority hears grant report

By BRIAN COSNER News Review Staff Writer

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority met Thursday morning, on the agenda was a status update from Water Resources Manager Steve Johnson on some $2.1 million in Proposition 1 grant funds. While details were not available at press time, the agenda also included a presentation on imported water marketing, a report on the new groundwater extraction fee and the first draft of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

IWVGA matters were discussed during the Monday meeting of the IWV Water District Board of Directors when boardmembers asked their authority representative Peter Brown to continue pushing for a finance committee.

The authority has an annual budget nearing $5 million, $930,000 of which needed to be covered by a valleywide pumping fee, and stakeholders have been pleading for formation of a standing finance committee for more than a year.

“I just don’t quite understand why that can’t get on the agenda as a discussion,” said IWVWD Board President Ron Kicinski. Brown and the city’s representative, Mayor Peggy Breeden, both reported to their respective boards that they have pushed for such a committee, but that there’s been no movement.

Brown argued that maybe a committee wasn’t necessary as the authority’s primary revenue stream is from a singular source, the Prop 1 grant, with expenses going almost solely to Steve Johnson and Stetson Engineers.

But the authority approved a $30-per-acre-foot fee which goes into effect in September, in addition to other revenue sources, including a $500,000 advance from the water district.

“I believe a finance committee is very important with the new revenue coming in,” said Director Chuck Griffin. “If it gets voted down, it does. But at least we made an effort and that’s what I’d like to see happen because I believe it’s imperative.”

Director Chuck Cordell seconded Griffin’s sentiments, adding that it’s been “a long dang time” that they’ve been asking for it.

The IWVGA is tasked with implementing its sustainability plan by 2020 as part of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. In addition to representatives from the city and water district, the authority includes voting representatives from Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo counties as well as nonvoting members from the Navy and the Bureau of Land Management.

Details on Thursday’s meeting will be available in future editions. For more on SGMA and the groundwater authority, see iwvga.org.

Story First Published: 2018-08-17