Comments on BWD Manager's Report of August 2008
Digger - September 08, 2008
The BWD Manager's Report shares something with the television show "The Colbert Report;" i . e., the quality of " truthiness ." (Based on what one wishes or believes to be true or "gut feelings" rather than facts, evidence, or rational thought; i.e., " truthy but not facty ") It may be a well-intentioned effort to inform ratepayers and interested others of "some of the major activities that Borrego Water District is undertaking to ensure the Valley has a sustainable and high quality water supply for now and the future" as the opening paragraph claims. More likely, however, it is just another disingenuous attempt by General Manager Rich Williamson to make it appear as if BWD is moving forward on addressing the Valley's deteriorating water supply situation when, in fact, they are running in place if not sliding backward.
With respect to the five topical paragraphs of the subject report:
- Water Conservation: These programs are a necessary part of a comprehensive, coherent, and well coordinated program to ensure a sustainable water supply for the valley, and BWD was right to institute them so far as they go. They will not, however, by themselves, make even a dent in the urgent water supply problem now confronting the valley and the necessary context of a comprehensive program is nowhere to be found.
- Groundwater Management: Analyzing the Borrego Valley aquifer to "scientifically determine the water that is available for future use, and... ascertain the future viability of this important element of the Valley's water supply" is a good idea and should have been done years ago. At this point, however, it offers only marginal utility in actually solving the valley's water supply problem insofar as it will make it more difficult for the professional skeptics and over-draft deniers to pretend that we do not have a critical and immanent water supply problem.
- Water Supply Planning: This is an especially disingenuous and misleading paragraph. The need for "options to supplement [the valley's water] supply" will clearly be necessary "as the community grows" no matter what "the Groundwater Aquifer analysis indicates," because we have for many years been mining the aquifer at a reckless and unsustainable rate. To pretend otherwise given the present state of knowledge about the aquifer is a fraud.
- Community Planning Participation: The Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group committee "to provide input to the updates to the General Plan for our area... to create a vision of what the future may hold for our village" so that the BWD can "insure that the water supply is available to meet the needs of our community in the future" has the tail wagging the dog. Far better to "create a vision that is grounded in the hard reality of the valley's carrying capacity - especially the severe limits of its water supply. Ignoring this intuitively obvious principal is what has cast all of southern California into the unfortunate situation in which it now finds itself with respect to water. Borrego may still have a chance to do it differently, but it will require quick, intelligent, and decisive action that has been entirely absent until now and is not in evidence in the Manager's Update.
- Public Participation: If the District's goal is, in fact, to "address the needs of the community and all the different interested parties residing here... to provide for the long-term water supply needs of Borrego Springs," then it is doomed to failure. The District does not "LISTEN" to the community's concerns with respect to our common water supply as the report claims. What the Water Conservation Program, as implemented, actually shows is that the selfish interests of a loud but uninformed group of individuals will prevail over a fair and sensible plan to foster water conservation - and there is no shortage of such selfish interests in Borrego.
Finally, the above reference to "An updated Water Resources Management Plan" is, if not the first, then one of the very few public announcements that such a project was underway. The update is being directed by Bill Mills who has been working as a groundwater consultant to AAWARE, the local farmer's mutual benefit corporation, for a number of years. It has essentially been developed behind closed doors with no public participation. It will, therefore, bear extremely close scrutiny when finally released for public review and comment.