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Disaster Area Initiative (DAI) - Again!

Digger - October 05, 2008

The Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group (CSG) recently charged its Desert Area Initiative (DAI) ad hoc committee, which previously wrote standards for development in the valley, with "morphing the DAI document into the new community plan" for the county's general plan update. Through months of meetings and public forums while developing the original DAI document, the DAI ad hoc committee managed to ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room: Groundwater and groundwater management.

Failure to acknowledge the limits imposed by the valley's precarious water supply turned the DAI into a "Disaster Area Initiative." The Borrego valley is headed for a train wreck and the DAI chose to plant petunias along the track. What is required is strong, informed leadership and bold action; not just the wish-list calculated to appeal to the lowest common denominator that is the DAI document.

It is scant comfort, therefore, when, according to the recent BWD Manager's Report, the DAI ad hoc committee will "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."

This is exactly the wrong-headed approach that corrupted the DAI the last time. It has the tail wagging the dog. Far better to "create a vision" that accommodates the hard reality of the valley's carrying capacity - especially the severe limits of its water supply - from the git go.

Failure to abide by this intuitively obvious planning principal is responsible for the chronic water shortages across southern California. Borrego may still have a chance to do it differently, but it will require quick, intelligent, and decisive action of a kind that the DAI ad hoc committee has not demonstrated and that has historically been absent from the valley.

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