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A Call for Fairness

- January 16, 2018 -

What follows is the text of a letter to the Editor of the Borrego Sun signed by 19 concerned citizens published on 11 January 2018.

We the undersigned urge the Borrego Water District Board to more vigorously defend the interests of homeowners and businesses, who are the municipal ratepayers in Borrego Springs. Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Borrego Springs is required to reduce the amount of water that is taken out of the aquifer by approximately 70% in order to make our water usage "sustainable". At present, homeowners use approximately 10% of Borrego's water, which is delivered and managed by the Borrego Water District. Farmers, golf courses, and other commercial entities use approximately 90% of the water. The Borrego Water Coalition was formed with these groups and with the Borrego Water District as the only municipal ratepayer representative to address the over-drafted aquifer. Everyone knows we have to reduce our water use. The question is how might we best allocate the obvious pain that is coming.

The Borrego Water Coalition met privately for a few years and made formal recommendations that would keep the percentages the same for all groups, while overall water use is reduced. We think that this is unfair. For many years now, farmers and golf courses have been taking the lion's share of the water, while ratepayers have been relatively modest in their use. Now that the crunch has come and a reduction is being mandated, the residents and business ratepayers of Borrego are being asked to shoulder a heavy burden, even though it is the heavy use by others that got us into the mess we are in. Now that we are being forced to do something, we think that those who have taken the most - the farmers in particular - should take on the bulk of the reductions.

To make sure that our argument is on solid legal footing, we sought advice from Thomas S. Bunn III, a partner in the firm of Lagerlof, Senecal, Gosney & Kruse, LLP and one of California's most accomplished water attorneys. Mr. Bunn told us that according to law, groundwater extraction may be allocated by any reasonable method. He suggested that one reasonable method would be to allocate the Borrego Water District an amount comparable to its recent pump rate, and reduce agricultural and golf course pumping over time to a sustainable level.

We call on the Board of the Borrego Water District to adopt the "reasonable method" of allocation suggested by Bunn, send a letter to the County of San Diego and the Borrego Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Core Team formally notifying them that this plan has been adopted and that they will begin defending this reasonable method in order to protect the interests of BWD ratepayers.

Nick Clapp Jenn Puel Wayne Jensen Laara Maxwell John Delaney Heather Davidson Mark Jorgenson Saul Miller
Ray Shindler Mary Delaney Peter Reiner Ray Larson Dennis Dickinson Bonnie Clapp Dick Walker Lucy Larson
Chuck Bennett Celeste Doughty

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