To the Editor: GA will bankrupt valley

The IWV Groundwater Agency exists to meet the requirements of the State Groundwater Management Act, and should be funded by the state, according to the California Constitution. The agency seems to miss that fact, however, and wants us to pay its bills. It has so far incurred debts of more than $5 million and future costs could be more than $150 million — costing each of us $1,300 to $2,200 per year. Can you afford that?

Watch out because the lawyers of the GA want it to begin costly projects by summer 2020, and have the GA start collecting our economic life blood to pay for them. And all of this with only one or two public meetings to review and discuss a 100-plus-page plan. Does that sound right?

So far the GA members act like they expect us to pay for this mountain of debt. Why have not the expansive team of GA lawyers educate the board as to what should rightly happen?

Here is who should pay for all this: California Constitution Article 13B, Section 6: (a) Whenever the legislature or any state agency mandates a new program or higher level of service on any local government, the etate shall provide a subvention of funds to reimburse that local government for the costs of the program or increased level of service.

This article is very clear. Why has the GA not already addressed this with the State Department of Water Resources, instead of trying to stick us with the bill? The statement by the GA to the state immediately after finalizing the GSP plan should be:

The etate has mandated a GSP to achieve groundwater sustainability in the Indian Wells Valley basin. The IWVGA plan meets SGMA law. Being a mandated action by the California State government, costs are lawfully the states’ obligation according to Article 13B of the State Constitution, Sec 6. We present the costs of generating this GSP for reimbursement. Subsequent actions by the IWVGA may entail, when funding is provided. This request shall in no way be interpreted as an invitation for state intervention in the GSP. The right and authority for providing water to the citizens of the IWV remain the right of the citizens of the IWV. The state’s role in the GSP now is to fund it.

Without an action like this, the economic well-being of all the citizens in this valley is in jeopardy. Who among us can possibly bear such increases in our yearly expenses? The ripple effect will be widespread and result in an economic earthquake here far exceeding the effect of the last two physical earthquakes.

The GA and citizens of the IWV need to take the constitutionally lawful stance outlined in the above paragraph and make our government behave lawfully tofund the GSP and any further GA actions, and not force an economic tsunami on this valley. The GA, the county, the city, and the water eistrict need to get educated on the California Constitution to avoid bankrupting this valley needlessly.

They further need to hold special meetings for discussions with the public once they come to understand who is responsible for paying the costs of state-mandated programs. These meetings should be held in early January on the whole GSP issue, and this proposal specifically. The groupis not likely to do this without pressure. Email them and demand they give serious thought to making the state pay for the GSP. The email address is apriln@iwvwd.com.

Michael Neel

Story First Published: 2019-12-13