Digger - January 21, 2019
Highlights of recent articles about or related to groundwater in the Borrego Valley of California and efforts to manage it - or not.
For previous years click here.
An agreement reached among parties negotiating the Stipulated Agreement designated the BWD board as the body that will select the Community Member of the Water Master Board (WMB) based on background, qualifications, and interviews with candidates at a public hearing. The appointment of a community member to the WMB was mentioned frequently in the public comments received on the draft Stipulated Agreement.
The last paragraph of the editorial concerns water: "It seems that the Water Management Agreement (now GMP), is in its final form. Let's hope that after all the effort put into its creation it succeeds in serving its purpose. Time will tell."(Editorial comment: Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the product of five years work.)
Two letters, one about water
"Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant", p. 7
Rebecca Falk, Chair of the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group, represented the Group on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Advisory Committee. In an op-ed she warns against surrendering Borrego Springs' future "to a handful of people or corporations who have been overpumping our water," but it appears that ship has long-since sailed. (For the full text of this letter click here.)
Public comments on the Stipulated Judgment "included many... on the selection of the Community Member who will sit on the Water Master Board" to represent the community at large on various water related issues. The BWD board will make the selection in a public meeting after interviewing candidates and providing an opportunity for the public to ask questions of them. The article also addresses, without explicitly acknowledging or resolving, another serious concern that has been raised about the proposed Stipulated Judgment, i.e. that the Community Member of the Water Master Board (WMB) will be the only member of the WMB without funds to hire legal or other experts to advise and assist her/him in disputing a decision of the WMB. It simply asserts without preamble or elaboration that "The Stipulated Agreement was structured to include the right for the Community Member to consult with the Board's legal council and register an appeal if warranted."
During the public comment period for the Stipulated Agreement thirteen individuals or entities submitted comments. Many of those doing so addressed multiple aspects of the Stipulated Agreement. The Borrego Sun separated the specific comments and grouped them into six categories:
Eight of the seventeen specific comments in the Governence category addressed selection of the WMB Community Member and the Stipulated Judgment was revised accordingly to take into account the expressed concerns: "The BWD Board will make the selection of the WMB Community [Member?] after local organizations provide a slate of candidates and a public forum is held by the BWD."
A second comment in the Governance category asking for assurance that a minority of members could not make WM Board decisions resulted in revision of the Stipulated Judgment "to require at least three affirmative votes on all matters not requiring a super-majority."
A comment in the Miscellaneous category asking for exemption of water used for firefighting and other natural disasters [from regulation by the Stipulated Judgment?] prompted a revision of the Stipulated Judgment.
An incomprehensible comment in the Water Rights/Legal Process category from the Borrego Springs Unified School District concerning "[t]he amount of water production requested to be non-reducible," also resulted in a revision of the Stipulated Judgment.
The remaining thirty-three were simply "acknowledged," "noted," or explained away including one suggesting that the WMB Community Member be provided with "a budget... and/or support equivalent to the staff and support other members [of the WMB] will have" mentioned in two comment letters. That comment did not result in revision of the Stipulated Judgment because "we [BWD board members] are not aware of any judgments that compel Watermaster funds to be collected and directed to support any particular sector. Each party is responsible for their own costs," i.e. you can't make us do it. That is the equivalent of deliberatly sending the Community Member into a hatchet fight without a hatchet.
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