To the Editor: Searles responds to GA vote

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority held a public hearing Aug. 21 to determine the results of a Proposition 218 protest vote and assess the community’s opposition to the authority’s proposed Replenishment Fee.

Despite significant opposition expressed by community members participating in today’s hearing, the Authority voted 4-1 to pass the Replenishment Fee. The total number of Proposition 218 protest votes submitted by the public were not disclosed by the Authority.

The proposed fee is intended to cover the estimated cost to purchase imported water rights to help balance the region’s over-drafted groundwater basin. However, the Authority has yet to identify how or when those purchased rights could begin delivering additional water for that purpose. The fee would increase Searles’ water costs by 7,000 percent — or approximately $6 million per year — pushing the company to extinction.

We appreciate Chairman Gleason’s acknowledgement of Searles’ water right priority in the basin, and his offer to work with us to find a solution that will allow Searles to continue operating as an economic engine and pillar of this community.

The unprecedented level of community participation underscores the very real economic impacts this fee will have on local residents and businesses like ours. As we have done for over 140 years, we will continue working to maintain operations – particularly during one of our country’s worst recessions – and preserve the good paying, essential jobs of our 700 employees.

Burnell Blanchard, vice president of operations

Searles Valley Minerals

Story First Published: 2020-08-28