To the Editor: ‘To all water drinkers!’

Notice to all water drinkers! Every property owner should have received a “NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON A BASIN REPLENISHMENT FEE” in the mail from the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority.

The impact of tossing the notice in the trash was unclear to me, and I’m sure it was to many of you too. After I learned more, I dug it out of the trash and I’m writing this letter to urge your action. Unless a majority of landowners file a written protest, the IWVGA will proceed to spend a significant amount of OUR money on the first phase of the IWVGA’s Groundwater Augmentation Project with NO Plan, NO schedule and an exorbitant budget. It appears the local efforts to reduce our overdraft have not saved one drop of water, have already cost $6 million and now are morphing into an outrageously expensive risky project.

The proposed fee brings in no water but will cost local ratepayers approximately $300 a year. This is starting to sound like another wastewater treatment plant fiasco.

The one asset we control locally is our wastewater. There is absolutely no excuse for the city and the water district not to use the wastewater for our most beneficial use. It won’t solve the entire problem, but it can make a big difference. We need to solve the overdraft, and it needs to be solved in the most affordable manner possible. Wastewater is a key element of the solution.

The IWVGA needs a wakeup call. According to the local Groundwater Sustainability Plan, the water project they’re proposing will require an additional $250 million in infrastructure cost and has an annual operating cost of $8 million. This is unacceptable. Before we approve spending OUR money, we need a comprehensive plan as it is urgent to maintain existing water and restore what we’ve lost.

I urge you all to take the time to respond to the IWVGA by submitting one protest letter for each parcel of property, before Aug. 21. Otherwise the project will move forward and you will pay. The letter only needs to address the items specified in the notice: Address or Parcel Number, Name of property owner on record, statement of protestant’s relationship to property (i.e. owner, renter, etc), statement indicating the writing is a written protest on behalf of the parcel, and it must be signed with an original signature. Mail to IWVGA at 500 W. Ridgecrest Blvd, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 or deliver in an envelope marked “Protest” to the outdoor dropbox at that address. The new fees will keep coming until we tell the IWVGA we want real mitigation and it better be affordable.

Raymond Kelso

Story First Published: 2020-08-14