Draft GSP projected at $200M+

Public: ‘what is this going to cost me?’

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Members of the public are now able to view the valley’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan in draft form. The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority uploaded the proposed plan prior to the Thursday meeting of the board’s Technical Advisory and Policy Advisory committees.

The 289-page plan includes background information on the IWV groundwater basin, sustainable management criteria as defined by the state, planned projects and implementation costs and schedules.

Section 6 of the GSP drew the attention of members of the public who spoke during Wednesday’s meeting of the Ridgecrest City Council. The plan estimates $9.2 million in management costs, $1.7 million for shallow-well mitigations, $19 million for dust-control mitigations, $23 million for a pumping optimization project, $10-34 million for optimizing recycled water use and anywhere from $103-226 million to develop an imported water supply.

Figures do not include the costs of actual imported water – estimated as high as $2,500 per acre foot. Authority boardmembers have also been clear that they anticipate additional litigation costs down the road.

“These are staggering amounts of money,” said Mike Neel during public comment. Neel estimated that the annual costs to a typical user in order to pay for the plan would be hundreds of dollars, more than $1,000 taking into account the cost of imported water.

“Which retired person can afford that extra expense?” asked Neel. “How many of these people south of City Hall can afford that extra expense?” Neel suggested an evening town hall meeting to discuss the GSP, since most GA meetings are held weekday mornings. Member of the public and IWV Water District Director Stan Rajtora agreed with that idea.

“The people’s primary concern is, ‘What is this going to cost me?’” said Rajtora, speaking as a member of the public. He said people can make assumptions about the costs borne by an average consumer, but that this information is in no way made clear in the GSP.

“It’s the uncertainty that’s the issue,” he said. “There should be very clear statements in the document that say what people are going to have to pay for this.”

All sections of the draft plan, as well as committee comments regarding certain sections, are available at the authority’s website at iwvga.org/gsp-chapters. The authority TAC and PAC discussed the draft GSP at a combined meeting Thursday afternoon. Details were not available at press time.

Story First Published: 2019-11-08