We can no longer ignore the evidence of known local water availability

Editorial

If I wanted to become rich, I would seek council from someone who had become rich and gain from that person the pathway to riches. Likewise, if I wanted to find water I would seek council from someone who had discovered water. Now that we are seeking a water source for this valley, let’s take council from Dr. Carl Austin, Geologist, who spent more than 20 years in the exploration of water in this area.

As a consequence of his discovery, he developed the Coso Geothermal Power Plant at China Lake, the second largest plant in the United States and fifth largest in the world. Coso has pumped millions of gallons of water in the form of steam for the Navy for more that 25 years. This is rendering the Navy millions of dollars for that many years.

Since there is such an abundance of water in that nearby basin would it not stand to reason that we also have an abundant supply.

I quote Dr. Austin from an interview, published in the News Review October 30, 1981 regarding groundwater bearing granitic rock.

“If you assume that the Sierra granitic had only two percent fracture pore face, which is a very conservative estimate, there is three cubic miles of water in that rock.”

“We have done some drilling of granitic’s alongside Rose Valley and we came out with close to ten percent pore face. That was a 4,000 ft plus hole. If the Sierra granitic’s have 10 percent pore face, your talking 51 million feet of water, in the fractures alone in the Sierra Nevada. If it were only two percent, you’re still looking at 10 million feet. Ten times what is in the upper floor of this valley naturally. That is all water that will ultimately run into this valley. That is the buffer that protects us in the dry years and the wet years. Because it moves slowly and steadily through the years in the underground into valley with that current estimated recharge into the valley, it would take us 2,500 years to deplete that storage above the valley floor. There is a lot of water stored out there beside us... 15 cubic miles, possibly.”

Here we have the other side of the story, much different than what we read in the published letter (see below), from Scott Hayman, president of the IWVGW board.

Noteworthy is the fact that Austin did not gain his knowledge of the ground water in this valley by building a model as most scientists do. He was an explorationist, gaining his knowledge by drilling and exploring.

I have discussed with Austin water issues for hours during his study and development of Coso. He has said the margins of the IWV with the intense fracturing are just as permeable as those surrounding Coso.

He related, “a Navy commander lent me to another agency to be an expert in a water rights case involving a tunnel in granite that was producing over 60,000 gallons per minute from a single set of fractures. I could give numerous similar examples. Fractured granitic rocks can serve as superb aquifers.”

I was there on the day that the first steam well was released. Ear plugs were required. The surge of steam from the first well was at over 300 feet in the air.

Board members of the IWVGA have made the statement, “importing water is not a solution, we do not know that it is available, but we do know that it is unaffordable, people could not afford to live here.”

The questions need to be asked, why are we going forward with the Groundwater Sustainability Plan that recommends importing water as a solution to balancing our water table? What kind of an economic future can we look forward to? How critical is it to protect the mission at China Lake?

We can no longer afford to ignore the evidence of known available water sources in this valley.

Next week we will discuss other another known source of water that is coming through our boundaries.

Patricia Farris, Publisher

Story First Published: 2021-08-20