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"In Case You Missed It..."

Digger - March 30, 2023

Highlights of articles about or related to groundwater in the Borrego Valley of California and efforts to manage it - or not.

For previous years click here

Borrego Sun 08/31/2023

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Four letters. None about water.

Two of the four letters were from County Supervisor Jim Desmond, one from State Assembly Member Marie Waldron, and one from Francoise Rhodes, Executive Director of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Grant Funded Projects Update at BWD p. 7

This is the only mention of water in this issue. It reports that the Borrego Water District is making "great progress" on critical improvements included in its multi-year Capital Improvements and Replacement program.

A series of groundwater quality monitoring wells have been installed around the effluent percolation ponds near the Waste Water Treatment Plant to determine if the basin is impacted by the operation of the plant and if additional treatment might be required by the state in future.

The twin tanks replacement project has been completed.

Replacement of another tank, Rams Hill 2, has also been completed.


Borrego Sun 07/06/2023

Borrego Water District Increases Future Water Supply p. 1

In what BWD's General Manager called "a good deal for everybody," the Water District recently negotiated the purchase of two citrus ranches from David and William Bauer for $4.6 mil. The purchase includes a total of 420 acres of land and 640-acre feet of associated permanent water rights and the sellers will be responsible for fallowing the land. Payments will extend over the next eight years but BWD will acquire the water rights after five years.

The new water rights will offset two-thirds of BWD's 75% reduction of 905-acre feet required on or before 2040 by the California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 and help secure a future water supply for ratepayers.

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Five letters. None about water.

BWD Board of Directors Public Forum p. 8

At their meeting on June 13, the BWD Board of Directors held a public forum to select a replacement for the Alternate Community Representative to the Borrego Watermaster Board to replace Martha Deichler who recently resigned as required by the Borrego Springs Judgement that governs the administration of the Borrego Basin. Two candidates, Jim Dax and Jim Wermers where considered and Dax was selected to fill the position.

Borrego Sun 06/22/2023

Beetles: Answer to Invasive Trees p. 1

The tamarisk beetle may accomplish what other means have not: elimination of tamarisk trees from the Borrego Valley. Tamarisk trees, also known as saltcedar, are "invasive, non-native, and thirsty plants that consume much of the limited water supply in arid places" resulting in declines in native flora and fauna.

The Anza-Borrego State Park has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over years to remove tamarisk trees through mechanical and chemical means with but indifferent success. Recently, tamarisk beetles were found in local tamarisk trees after migrating from Utah. The beetles were introduced there and in Big Bend, Texas to control the trees and have become an important biological control agent for tamarisk. Now tamarisk in the northern part of the Borrego Valley are already being killed by the insect. They have also been found at Middle Willows in Coyote Canyon and appear to be spreading rapidly in the Valley. Former ABDSP Superintendant Mark Jorgensen said the beetle "will make a huge difference" in efforts to control the invasive trees.

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Six letters. None about water.

Borrego Sun 06/08/2023

Letters to the Editor, p. 5-7

Seven letters. None about water.

Watermaster Board Community Alternate Position Open p. 7

Alternate Community Representative to the Watermaster Board, Martha Deichler, has resigned due to the press of other, new responsibilities. The BWD board will select a new Alternate on June 13.

Borrego Sun 05/25/2023

Rams Hill Adapts for Future p.1

In response to "the modern challenges of sustainability and water conservation," Rams Hill is launching a project described as an "agronomy transformation," that will extend its golf operation to twelve months but use fewer chemical fertilizers and "substantially" reduce water use." But "golfers are at the heart of everything we're doing" said Rams Hill's COO and General Manager, Harry Turner.

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Six letters. None about water.

Revitalization Meeting Full of Surprises, All Good p. 12

Supervisor Desmond introduced the County's Water Equity Project to address impacts of the drought. The project will "analyze drought management and water sustainability practices to proactively address the challenges of our regions reliance on water sources" (Editor's note: We don't know what it means either.) and make recommendations that equitably address the drought crisis.

The article lists eight specific "opportunities" to be addressed by the project, at least one of which might be of special interest to Borregans: Identify risks, opportunities, and incentives for sustainable agriculture projects.

Borrego Sun 05/11/2023

De Anza Breaks Ground p. 4

De Anza Desert Club held a groundbreaking ceremony on April 26 for new landscaping and a water management system on their golf course. The General Manager told the audience that the project would convert 67 acres to drought tolerant native landscaping and reduce water use on the course to under 500 acre-feet annually using a three-pronged approach:.

Watering of 30 of the 67 acres ceased last summer and was shut off to the remaining 37 acres on May 1, with drip irrigation now supplying water to established trees in the area.

The first phase of planting commenced on May 1, and will continue through the upcoming season.

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Six letters. None about water.

Capital Project Activity p. 8

A report on activities at BWD. Replacement of the Twin Tanks is well underway. The southernmost tank has been removed to facilitate construction of the new tank that will replace both of the existing tanks. Construction of new monitoring wells intended to monitor water quality around the Wastewater Treatment Plant has also started.

Borrego Sun 04/13/2023

Groundwater Ecosystems Findings p. 1

On 27 March 2023, scientists from U.C. Irvine presented the initial findings of a three-year study of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) in the Borrego Subbasin, a joint venture among the Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy, UCI, and the Department of Botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

GDEs are categories of plants and animals that depend on access to groundwater for survival. The prime example of GDEs in the Borrego Subbasin is several thousand acres of mesquite that once extended north from the Borrego Sink. Borrego's Groundwater Management Plan (GMP) avers that decades of declining groundwater levels in the subbasin led to the death of most of the mesquite forest (often called a "bosque") by 1985, leaving only remnants that need not be considered in the GMP.

According to the principal investigators of the study, however, the justification for the GMP's assumption that only remnants of the original forest remained "exhibit[s] particular substantive knowledge gaps and lack site-specific data:"

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Four letters. None about water.

Untitled p. 7

This article also covers the findings of the three-year study of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) in the Borrego Subbasin (the Study) described above but is shorter, more direct, and provides a few additional details.

The Study found three important discrepancies in information used or cited in the GMP findings that call into question "the confidence of [the Borrego Basin Groundwater Management Plan's (GMP) assumption that the mesquite bosque is no longer dependent on groundwater for survival:

Borrego Sun 03/30/2023

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Four letters. None about water.

Water Quality Study Planned, p. 7

Water quality in the Borrego Springs Sub-Basin has become a priority for BWD prompted by mandated reduction in high-volume pumping in the Northern (agricultural) part of the basin that threatens to cause poor quality water to migrate toward BWD production wells.

In recognition of this possibility the BWD board increased the frequency of sampling five years ago and will now consider developing a Groundwater Quality Risk Assessment Update to evaluate the data collected in the interim, assess the potential risks of impending, wide-spread pumping reductions in the agricultural area, and support future groundwater management decisions.

Before 2017, water quality in the Borrego Springs Sub-Basin was sampled only every three years; since 2017, BWD and the WaterMaster have been sampling wells in the sub-basin semi-annually to help fill gaps in the data set and improve the quality of analysis. While there are presently no known water quality issues at any of BWD's production wells, it is critical to identify potential threats to the water supply before they become problems.

Borrego Sun 03/16/2023

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Three letters. None about water.

BWD Departures, p. 7

After almost 20 years of service to BWD, Wendy Quinn, Board Minutes Clerk, is retiring. Her ability to consistantly produce detailed and accurate meeting records will be sorely missed.

[Editorial note: Borregans should hope that Quinn's departure does not result in even further diminution of public information about the BWD board's doings, a clear and ever-present danger.]

In addition, David Dale, BWD's long-time District Engineer, is leaving to join Imperial County's Public Works Department.

Borrego Sun 03/02/2023

No Articles About Water

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

letters. None about water.

Borrego Sun 02/16/2023

No Articles About Water

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Three letters. None about water.

Borrego Sun 02/02/2023

Plight of Wildlife, p. 1

An attempt to answer questions the Borrego Sun has received "about why it appears that wildlife populations are not as healthy as they have been in the past." The State Park Environmental Scientist explained that there are both normal, relatively short-term wildlife cycles such as the prey/predator cycle tied to resources like rainfall that happen quickly and so are easily noticed, and gradual but longer-lasting, more concerning trends, e.g., the gradual overall decline of all wild life from microbes to mammals which go largely unperceived by the general populace. "As humanity's footprint expands we are devastating species" of all sorts and "the net lost over the past decade is concerning." The piece argues that Borrego Springs is "blessed" to be surrounded by a 700,000-acre state park that supports biodiversity and has addressed some of the things we are losing. But it warns "the larger concern is the long game."

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Five letters. One about water from 75th District State Assembly Member Marie Walrdon:

"Water, Water, Everywhere..." p. 7

California's largest dams and water reservoirs were built before 1979, most between 1945 - 68, when the State's population was less than half what it is today. In 2014, voters approved a $7.5 billion water bond that included $2.7 billion for new dams and reservoirs, but few projects are underway or even being planned due to bureaucratic obstacles. Meanwhile, during the recent torrential rains, an estimated 95% of rainfall collected in the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta flowed into the sea and the vast majority of snowmelt and future rainfall will do so as well. California needs to start building water storage now.

Borrego Sun 01/19/2023

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Four letters. None about water.

Moran Selected to BWD Board, p. 7

On January 19, the BWD board selected Gina Moran to replace Director Paul Rosenbloom who decided not to run for reelection in November 2022. Moran previously served as Superintendent of the Anza - Borrego Desert State Park and, in that capacity, sat on the nine-member advisory committee that developed the Groundwater Sustainability Plan1 for the Borrego Basin. She also worked for the California Department of Transportation where she was responsible for the setting the Department's environmental policy.

Borrego Sun 01/05/2023

Water Emergency Declared P. 1

San Diego County has relied on Colorado River water since 1946, most of which is supplied by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). On 14 December 2022, MWD declared a "Regional Drought Emergency" in response to the prolonged drought in the western U.S. and called on water agencies they serve to immediately reduce use of imported water.

The MWD obtains about one-half of all water used in Southern California from the Colorado River and from Northern California via the State Water Project (SWP). Both sources have been adversely affected by the drought. The past three years were the driest in California's history resulting in record low SWP deliveries to Southern California via the SWP. The federal government has called upon users of Colorado River water to curtail their use by up to 4 million acre/feet per year - the amount used by California - or face mandatory reductions.

In the 1990s, a severe dry spell cut San Diego's water supply from MWD by 30%, so, in 2003, the San Diego County Water authority negotiated an historic water transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District, the single largest user of Colorado River water, for about 55% of MWD's total requirement

Perhaps due to a persistently overly-optimistic interpretation of the transfer agreement, growth of water-dependent residences and enterprises of all sorts have been and continue to be approved by local governments in San Diego County apparently without consideration of water supplies to support them - which are not unlimited.

Geoff Poole, General Manager of the Borrego Water District, commented that residents of Borrego Springs are "lucky" not to depend on imported water and to have an idea how much reliable, local groundwater is available.

Letters to the Editor, p. 6

Four letters. None about water.

BWD Receives "Present" for Holidays, p. 7

Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Darrell Issa sponsored a direct congressional appropriation to construct a new transmission main in Borrego Springs Road and replace aging pipelines in Sun Gold. The two projects will cost $4.2 mil. of which the appropriation will cover 80%. If BWD where to cover the entire cost the base water rate would increase by $.50 per unit. The new lines will provide more reliable service and enhanced fire protection. BWD has 45 miles of pipeline that must be replaced ASAP.

LETTERS CAVEAT: For a few years now, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who's District includes Borrego Springs, and the Francoise Rhodes, Executive Director of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce, The Usual Suspects, have each been publishing a 'letter' in every issue of the Borrego Sun. These missives are, and should be published and labeled as, reports on the activities of the respective individuals or their organizations. They are included in the tally of Letters to the Editor herein because that is how the paper publishes them. Due to the small number of letters appearing in each issue, however, doing so significantly skews the count and is misleading. For the sake of data continuity, we will continue counting them as 'letters' so long as the Borrego Sun presents them as such, but with this caveat.


***For previous years see:***

In Case You Missed It 2022
In Case You Missed It 2021
In Case You Missed It 2020
In Case You Missed It 2019
In Case You Missed It 2018
In Case You Missed It 2017
In Case You Missed It 2016
In Case You Missed It 2015
In Case You Missed It 2014

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