1. FIND ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF WATER
The report on groundwater prepared by the California
Department of Water Resources in the 1980s identified the cost to obtain and
Recent events would suggest that this solution is even less realistic now. The Board has specifically excluded this option by not including it in the BWD adopted program.
B. Acquire and import water from adjacent basins:
The BWD Board listed this solution as a low priority in the Groundwater Management Plan. This was done as the district spent nearly $300,000 in studies regarding this approach and those advising the district concluded that it si not an option because there is insufficient water in these adjacent basins, there are problems of high salt content, problems of having a legal right to any water and the high costs for transporting and treating it.
Agricultural interests in the valley are currently pursuing further evaluation of this alternative. It is assumed that their results will be brought to the Board. Acquiring water in adjacent basins and transporting to this valley to help resolve the overdraft is an adopted program of the current GroundwaterPlan. Therefore, no additional action is needed by the BWD Board until the new studies show evidence of it being a practical solution.
2. VOLUNTARY REDUCTIONS IN WATER USE
A. Informational programs for domestic water users:
We have published a column in the “Borrego Sun”, purchased handouts and books on water conservation for distributions at the office and festivals, funded school programs.
There has been
a slight reduction in domestic water usage but even if we had the success that
B Informational and technical programs for agriculture:
We assisted in funding the program for experimenting with heavy mulching.
So far it has not proven very effective in reducing water use.
C. Voluntary reduction in water use by golf courses and agriculture:
The response in talking with golf course managers has been that the costs of
changing water systems is too expensive and there is little interest in reducing
turf areas by those making decisions. At least one manager has stated that he does not believe there is any problem in regard to groundwater availability. At Rams Hill, a project that has a specific County requirement to only use low water use planting, the turf area was expanded to over 150 acres and lately low water landscaping at the entrance to the golf facility and development has been replaced by grass.
There has been a substantial change in agricultural
planting, but it appear that non-profitable uses such as grapefruit trees are
being replaced with uses such as lemon trees which require the same amount of
water. Also, the potato farm on
knowledgeable about golf course irrigation and
It may require that the BWD take legal action if it wishes to require that the County take seriously its provisions for low water use on projects.3. WORK WITH
A. Revising the
The conversion of undeveloped land to agriculture or the conversion of existing agricultural land to higher water use agriculture is the one land use that does not require any permit or evaluation (unless significant grading or clearing of natural vegetation is involved). All other new uses – such as residential and commercial subdivisions and golf courses and even new resorts – have requirements, but the continued enforcement of approved low water use landscaping is non-existent.
(see item 2 C above)
B. The County Grading and Clearing Ordinance:
Under state requirements about water run-off from new development, the County has implemented a countywide grading and clearing ordinance that has required the clearing of native vegetation for agriculture be subject to environmental review. Under the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, this review has triggered a broader environmental review than just the impact of run-off and that has included groundwater use impacts.
Board of Supervisors have expressed reserve about regulating agricultural
grading, particularly our supervisor. DPLU has been lax in requiring
environmental reviews and the
enforcement staff has been very reluctant to act on violations. This ordinance alone is insufficient to
regulate the conversion of much land in the
The County Groundwater Ordinance deals only with conversion of land to residential uses and Borrego is exempt.
The ordinance is currently being revised, but even if Borrego is included it would not cover agriculture unless the entire intent of the ordinance is changed. Currently, it just sets residential densities based upon the amount of rainfall an areas gets.
D. Developing a special ordinance for the
As part of the 2020 general plan revisions the
County is undertaking, John Peterson developed proposals to limit the expansion
of heavy water use activities in the
We are now told that after six months the planning department management is prepared to at least send the letter to the Board asking if they want to create a committee to look into the matter.
There is expressed reluctance on the part of the fifth district supervisors to get involved in resolving the groundwater problem in Borrego. Supervisor Dianne Jacob represents most of the unincorporated area with groundwater problems and is generally more concerned about the issue. It may be best to try to work with her staff or other back county planning groups with similar issues.
4. ECONOMIC INCENTIVES TO REDUCE “MUNICIPAL” USE
This involves implementing a tiered water system to reduce use by district
customers. The argument against it has been that water district customers only
use 10% of the water, so it would have a significant impact on costs to some – those with high water use landscaping -- with little benefit to the aquifer. The alternative argument has been that it would show that the district is doing its maximum share to reduce water use and would call attention to the groundwater problems.
No actions have been taken in regard to this program.
5. ACQUIRING THE WATER RIGHTS OR THE LAND OF AGRICULTURAL WATER USERS WHO ARE WILLING TO SELL
Bob Reniers has been concerned for some time with developing proposals for funding this acquisition. At this time, however, there does not appear to be an interest on the part of agricultural interest to sell or to change their production to lower water use.
Therefore, the more significant problem may be that we have no willing sellers at a price that we or any other entity could pay. It is reported that agricultural water use in this valley costs below $150 an acre-foot while those on the coast involved in agriculture are paying over $400. Also, the local supply does not have concerns of government interrupting the use. While the water won’t last forever, most seem to believe that it will last as long as they are involved. Recent efforts by a local real estate firm to try and acquire agricultural land for a solar facility have been turned down by those agricultural interest who would seem to have the best reasons for selling. Before we pursue this issue further we may need to contact the property owners to see if there is any interest in this approach. It may not exist until water rights are adjudicated. Both determination of water rights and a willing seller may be conditions precedent to having any foundation to consider committing funds.
6. ADJUDICATION OF WATER RIGHTS
This has the lowest priority of all programs. It has that position as it would be expensive, time consuming, very controversial and would have a major impact on the value of undeveloped land.
In consideration of this alternative it should be noted that we are learning that trying other approaches also involves high financial cost, such as replacing well due to falling water levels or building more reservoirs, and the danger of additional depletion and contamination of the resource. If the problem is not resolved, the costs will escalate and be reflected in higher and higher water rates.
A different approach discussed by some in the
community would be to bring legal action
against the County for inadequate environmental review if the new general plan
doesn’t deal with the issue of groundwater protection in an effective manner.
At the hearings on the 2020 plan many persons opposed to various aspects of the
draft plan have threatened legal action,
so this might be a confusing matter if all were combined.
TO: BWD Board of Directors
FROM: Tom Weber
GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT EXPENDITURES FOR FY 2003/4
The draft FY 2004/04 Operations Budget that your board’s ad hoc committee is completing allocates $100,000 for groundwater management related expenses for the fiscal year. It should be noted that Operations Budgets for the last three years have allocated $100,000, but used only half of the money. One reason may be that I and others forget to account their time to this category.
At the May board meeting on the recommended work program for next year, your board tentatively agreed to assign approximately $40,000 from groundwater management to staff cost for work on the program and grants. They also asked that we obtain proposals from Peggy Walker regarding the costs of her work for applying for grants and from John Peterson regarding the work he had outlined earlier.
The proposal from John Peterson has been received and is attached. The proposal from Peggy Walker is not yet available. John has estimated a cost of $30,000 for three items:
Evaluating existing water quality results and establish a water quality network on
production wells in the valley. Also produce a report on this - $12,500.
Review and update water use demands - $10,000
Work on various groundwater issues -$7,500
We may not have the funds to do all that John proposes, but we recommend that your Board review his proposal at the Board meeting and give us direction. Staff could do the update of water use, but it might have more acceptance if it comes from a consultant, particularly John Peterson. To assist your Board in its overall review I have prepared and attached a report titled, “Status of Work to Resolve Groundwater Overdraft”. Hopefully, this may assist you in determining where you want to direct funding.
It is our RECOMMENDATION:
Subject to funding in the Operations Budget, your Board tentatively approve
a groundwater management program and budget for FY 2003/04 consisting of:
$8,500 for continuing USGS monitoring of water inflows to the valley
$40,000 for BWD work on administration, technical studies, working with county
and state staff and grant work.
$40,000 for consultant work on technical studies and grant preparation
$11,500 contingency for such matters as legal opinions, conferences, travel, etc.
June 11, 2003
TO: BWD Board of Director
FROM: Tom Weber
HOW WE WILL ORGANIZE TO OBTAIN GRANTS
Based upon approval of the Operations Budget and funding for staff time and consultants to apply for grants, we will be exploring for grants in three areas, using both in-house staff and consultants. Depending upon how much time is used for grant work applicable to groundwater management and for grant work applicable to capital facilities improvements, the funding will come from groundwater management and from general administration.
The following graph identifies how we will proceed. Jerry Rolwing will be designated the Grants Coordinator and this function will be partially funded by money assigned to groundwater management as that is where much of his work occur.