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Dissent in the Ranks of the Borrego Water Cabal

Digger - May 26, 2015

The April 9, 2015 issue of the Borrego Sun contained several items bearing on the community's ability to implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) while there is still economic groundwater in the basin to sustain.

The Borrego Water District's 14th Annual Town Hall Meeting opened with a recitation of what is apparently BWD's new mantra: "We as a community have the opportunity to take control of our water future." Mantras are utterances, often nonsensical, believed to have religious, spiritual, or magical efficacy. The BWD had better hope this one does because supernatural intervention seems to be its best hope for controlling Borrego's water future.

As evidence of that, Directors learned at the BWD board meeting on 25 March that some members of BWC now have "a fair amount of concern" over the seventy per cent reduction in withdrawals from the aquifer called for in BWC's own recommendations because, they allege, it fails to take into account return flows. This disingenuous tactic has been deployed by pumpers previously when they believe it is to their advantage to lower estimates of their water use. When, however, they see an advantage to raising those estimates, - as when setting the per acre usage for conversion to water credits - they argue that return flows are negligible. Director Lyle Brecht suggested the issue be resolved "with an independent analysis" by a qualified third-party with costs "spread across all the water users." Fine; so long as the pumpers agree to (a) retention of a truly neutral and detached qualified third-party, (b) bear their fair share (90%) of the cost, and (c) accept the findings as dispositive. Since the pumper dominated BWC is unlikely to accept these conditions, this "concern" likely portends the disintegration of the Potemkin coalition.

Finally, the reprint of Jay Famiglietti's article provided specific, common-sense imperatives for coping with a water emergency: impose mandatory water rationing, shorten time-lines for achieving long-term water sustainability, encourage public ownership of the issue, and START NOW. The District should implement these forthwith, but is far more likely to ignore them in favor of continued posturing and dithering. Om!

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