Immediately following is the text of a statement read at the Borrego Water District 7th Annual Town Hall Meeting on 19 March 2008 to report progress on groundwater management. It appears here by permission of the authors.
John and Mary Delaney
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Board of Directors
Borrego Water District
As we know, the homeowners of Borrego Springs are using only 10% of the water in the aquifer. The balance is used by farmers, golf courses and private wells. We all agree that the aquifer is in a state of overdraft. Itís so obvious that this problem wonít be solved until everyone who uses water pays for water. The unregulated and unrestricted use of water at no cost to large water users is not acceptable.
We often hear people in town say thereís nothing that can be done to get the farmers to pay for water. As the board knows, this is not true. We have the power and the right to impose a pump tax or extraction fee on private wells. So, please, letís finally dispel the myth that thereís nothing that can be done. California law clearly states that when there is a single source of water, each overlying landowner is entitled only to his reasonable and equitable share of the common supply. All parties are co-related by a single source of water in Borrego Springs. To de-water in a manner that is disproportionate injures the economic rights of others who take water in a beneficial and reasonable manner. No one has the right to overdraft the common supply.
I have nothing against farmers, I think farming is great, but you can be sure that the citrus growers in Florida have to pay for the water they use. The farmers in Indio and Coachella pay for their water. So if our farmers have to start paying for water, itís not like that would place them at a competitive disadvantage. And it would definitely give them an incentive to conserve.
By adopting a tiered water rate plan the board is saying that the only way to get people to conserve water is to make them pay for water. Shouldnít this same sound theory be applied to the biggest users of water?
We want the citizens of Borrego Springs to have the opportunity to vote on measures which will insure that all users of water pay for water, in other words, a pump tax or extraction fee.
John and Mary Delaney**********************************
In response to the above, Steven Smiley, Manager, Seley Ranch, and a member of the BWD Board of Directors, sent the following letter to the Delaney's. It consists of the same lame, tired, undocumented and unfounded, boiler-plate arguments that industrial agriculture in the valley consistently trots out to deflect righteous criticism of their predatory water use. The Delaney's response to Smiley's unsolicited comments in a letter they sent to the Chairman of the BWD board and General Manager about Smiley's inappropriate communication and apparent conflict of interest appear following Smiley's letter. Read on.
April 9, 2008
Mr. Williamson and Mr. Mendenhall:
We thought you should see a letter we received from Steve Smiley and our reply to him. We think itís very nervy of him to write us such a confrontational letter.
Mr. Smileyís bias is clear. Having him on the Water Board is akin to having the fox guard the hen house.
Itís so obvious that the era of farming in this valley must come to an end. No other solution is practical.
Think about the total value of all residential real estate in Borrego Springs and how that number is being impacted by the specter of a dried up aquifer. Thatís the cost of letting the unregulated consumption continue.
John and Mary DelaneyMore about pump taxes