To the Editor: No vote is a ‘yes’ to water fee increase

You may have recently received a notification mailer from the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Board of Directors. This letter is extremely important to all of us living in the Indian Wells Valley and particularly those who are connected to city water via the Indian Wells Valley Water District. Do not throw this letter away! It is actually a ballot, and throwing it away means you automatically vote “yes” to having your water rates skyrocket.

The Indian Wells Valley Ground Water Authority is requesting all users of water in the Indian Wells Valley pay a “Replenishment Fee.” According to the ballot this fee, if approved by the GA, will only give them the right to purchase water in order that our groundwater basin can be replenished. The most probable water source entity at this time is the State Water Project, an aquifer that runs inland from the California coast.

In reality, it is an unknown at this time how much the total cost will be to purchase replenishment water and transport the water to our basin. A “yes” vote at this time will only allow the GA to purchase outside sourced water. These fees will continually be charged to IWVWD users until the required amount of water received from an outside source allows our local aquifer to be sustainable. It is estimated to take five years to fund the purchase of the water. At that time, according to the ballot, construction of the water system is to begin, and the water purchase fees are to cease.

Yes, our Indian Wells Valley does need water to continue to sustain growth and our lifestyle in this wonderful area. However, if the ballot is passed the average single family home water bill could go up $60 to $100 per month. Large water users such as Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, the Sierra Sands School District will face astronomical fees. If voted in, all IWVWD users will be subject to an instant water fee spike come January 2021. And, this is just the beginning of other fees that will be needed to next transport the water to the valley.

The only way to vote “NO” is for each individual property owner to submit a letter of protest. If a letter is not submitted it gives the GA a “YES” vote of confidence to move forward. This essentially means water rates will exponentially be raised. No doubt, property owners and water users of our valley need to be informed and educated about what they are being requested to pay.

Tune in on-line to the IWVWD meetings as well as the GA meetings. Get informed about the process of importing water into our valley and the costs involved. No doubt the GA has been charged with the mandate to replenish our valley’s water source. How is that best to be done for all residences and businesses? Can the fees be offset for more than five years? Are there other less expensive water sources available whereby the water can be purchased? It’s a very complex process.

If you desire to vote “no” regarding IWVGA Basin Replenishment Fee a written protest must be sent to the GA by Aug. 21. There are specific items that must be stated otherwise the “NO” vote will not be counted. Contact the Ridgecrest Area Board of Realtors at (760) 499-1098 to receive a “no” ballot. Fill it out and remember it needs to arrive before Aug. 21, 2020 to be accepted.

Clint Freeman

Story First Published: 2020-07-24