GA to approve metering ordinance

IWV Groundwater Authority meetings remain open to the public, online viewing encouraged

GA to approve metering ordinanceBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority announced earlier this week that it’s regular meeting will remain open to the public, though members of the community are encouraged to tune in from home via the city’s YouTube channel. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday at City Hall with open session beginning at 10 a.m.

Among the GA’s action items is the second reading and adoption of an ordinance requiring valley groundwater extractors to install and report on metering equipment.

“A fundamental component of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the IWV Groundwater Basin is the accurate measurement, reporting and monitoring of groundwater extractions,” says the ordinance. “With the exception of certain extraction facilities … SGMA expressly provides the Authority with the ability require the metering of, and extraction reporting on, all groundwater extraction facilities in the Basin.”

Some of those exceptions include Federal entities like Bureau of Land Management and the Navy, and pumpers who use less than two acre-feet annually for residential use (called “de minimis” users).

Such ordinances have sparked questions of fairness as the GA is still in the process of identifying how many active groundwater wells there are in the valley. According to recent estimates, there are potentially hundreds of wells that have yet to be registered.

The GA is also being asked to approve multiple expenditures – $83,384.06 to water resource management firm Stetson Engineering – $9,993 to California Association of Mutual Water Companies Joint Powers Risk and Insurance Management Authority, $7,302.50 and some $7,000 in other consulting, legal and marketing fees.

After the open-session portion of the meeting, the board will discuss three instances of threatened litigation (Meadowbrook Dairy, Mojave Pistachio and Searles Valley Minerals) as wall as “three or more” cases of anticipated litigation.

“Based on existing facts and circumstances, the Board of Directors, on the advice of legal counsel, is meeting to decide whether, and when, to initiate litigation for failure to properly provide well registration and reporting.”

For the full agenda and more information, visit iwvga.org. The meeting will be streamed live online at ridgecrest-ca.gov/369/Watch or the city’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/cityofridgecrest/live. For those interested in participating remotely, public comment can be made by calling (760) 499-5010 or emailing apriln@iwvwd.com with written questions or comments before hand.

For large groups of people who may be interested in attending, the GA asks that they send a spokesperson in the spirit of social distancing.

Story First Published: 2020-03-18