Major concerns aired on adjudication suit

Editorial

By Patricia Farris

News Review Publisher

The agenda Item #4 titled “Discussion regarding the Board of the IWGA” (Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority) dominated the City Council meeting on Wednesday January 5.

Since all property owners in the basin were now receiving their copy of the Comprehensive Adjudication Lawsuit via Certified Mail serious concerns were brought up by City Council Members as well as the public.

Councilman Kyle Blades said, “I can say to people, since we’re all tied up in litigation now. There’s a lot of very big questions. So hopefully, we can have that discussion here.”

Mayor Eric Bruen said, “Just to piggyback on Kyle, I got the letter too. I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m trying to be frank. If you’ve received a certified mail letter that describes the adjudication and everything going on and you haven’t actually stopped to read the entire letter, start there. I’m going to address a little bit of public sarcasm…one of the criticisms has been the fact that I said Armageddon, and I just want to take the time to read the document. The next to the last page has Armageddon highlighted on it (his copy only).”

Reading from the document which says, “Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 847 and upon showing the basis of a condition of long term overdraft (which all parties agree to that we are in long term overdraft. The court not the GA, not the city, the court) may impose a preliminary injunction which may include (a) moratorium on new or increased appropriations from the basin. (New construction) (b) a limitation on, or reduction and the extraction of water from the Basin. (A reduction to the households and the businesses in our community.) (c) an allocation among the parties establishing amounts of extraction allowed from the Basin during the pendency of this comprehensive adjudication, (how much you can use during the adjudication) and (d) procedures for voluntary transfers of water. The comments in parenthesis are not a part of the document.

I’m only pointing this out because obviously there’s nobody on the Water District or at the City level or at the GA level that wants to see the court take these actions. If you’re going to be critical of the problem then be critical of the entire problem. We are absolutely advocating for this community and we’re wanting to work with the Water District.” Bruen said.

Councilman Hayman said, “I’d like to add to that the adjudication process lawsuit, at a minimum, could take a few years.”

During public comment Kathy Brown, a resident, phoned in, “I received my letter. It’s pretty shocking. It’s kind of scary. I’m a defendant. I’m a de minimis user, but they want us to support them in their lawsuit. Now, a lot of people out here have been talking and they’re very angry and upset. It’s bewildering. It’s just scary, quite frankly. It was kind of saying if you don’t get on board with us, you don’t know what’s gonna happen to you. We’re all just shaking in our boots now. And we’re sad and we’re disappointed. We’re confused. And it’s just catastrophic.”

Also during public comment Skip Gorman took the podium, “I’m on the fence regarding the adjudication. But I have an open mind. You used this bully pulpit this evening for some editorial slap. Generally the feeling is everybody in this fight has a lawyer behind them except the people (well owners) and that means a lot. So to join the adjudication, you’re a litigant. You have a lawyer on your side. I don’t get much from this body here, the City Council, as far as direction. Dr. Hayman, why don’t you do what you can to lower the antagonism? I know the Water District is up next for the chairmanship of the GA. Let’s not skip them. Let’s not leave Stan Rajatora out.”

Reporting on these comments should give a general sense of the concerns that people have.

Don Zdeba, Water District Manager, states, “The Comprehensive Adjudication does include Navy participation and allows all those who may claim a right to pump or store water in the Basin to participate, assert and prove any rights they may claim.”

The lawsuit is about the courts defining the water rights of all property owners in the Basin.

It appears that the adjudication lawsuit is the only way to bring the Navy to the table. The Water District is hosting an informational meeting on the adjudication lawsuit on Wednesday, January 26 at the Council Chambers at 6pm.

Story First Published: 2022-01-07