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The following appeared as a letter to the editor of the Borrego Sun on March 21, 2019, and is the second in a series.
It appears here by permission of the author.

Water Ratepayers - Less Than a 20-Year GSP Implementation Period

Gary A. Haldeman
BWD Ratepayer Representative to the Borrego Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) was drafted by a joint committee, the Groundwater Sustainability Agency GSA,) consisting of two members from the County of SD, two BWD Board members and its General Manager. Under SGMA (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2016) the Agency's responsibility is to draft and implement a plan that will ensure that the water used in the Borrego Basin is done so sustainably, which is to say, the water extracted from the aquifer will not exceed the water going into it.

The total amount of water being extracted from the Borrego Basin is approximately 22,000 acre feet/yr. (AFY.) The Borrego aquifer yields about 5,700 AFY. Simply put, across the board, water usage in our basin must be reduced by more than 16,000 AFY. SGMA allows for each GSA to determine how this reduction is to be apportioned. This is a decision our GSA will have to make.

In the last issue of the Borrego Sun I presented one argument (among many) as to why BWD/Ratepayers should undergo no reduction from our current usage of 1,700 AFY; reductions must come primarily from agriculture, and to a lesser degree from recreation. Together they account for almost 90% of all water used in the valley.

In this issue, I'd again like to present only one argument (and there are many) in favor of shortening the 20-year implementation period suggested (but not mandated) under SGMA. Once the GSP is completed (it should be finalized on March 15,) made available for review and comment for 60 days, and then approved, the process of implementing the Plan will begin.

We, the ratepayers, believe that this 20-year time frame is excessive. In the best of all worlds (where money is no object . where Proposition 3 had passed) BWD and the recreational entities would buy farmland sufficient to ensure their viability and the modest growth of the town. This would be achieved by fallowing farmland and removing its water use from the market. All of this within the framework of a maximum of 5,700 AFY. With the Prop. 3 funds, this could have been resolved in short order.

But Prop 3 failed.

If implementing the GSP is allowed to stretch out over a 20-year period, our aquifer will continue to be drawn down, the available water will become costlier to pump, and its quality will be significantly reduced.

It stands to reason that the sooner the GSP is fully implemented, the quicker we can ensure the safe and sustainable stewardship of our aquifer. Under no scenario does it make sense to prolong the implementation of the Plan for 20 years. Under SGMA, the Plan must be implemented. The reasonable, judicious, and sensible thing to do is to complete the process as quickly as possible.

Communicate this to your elected BWD members or to the appointed GSA members, and tell them how you feel. Together we will make this happen.

Previous letter in this series.

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