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Notes From Underground

Digger - 25 May 2017

Notes from Underground contains news items, alerts, commentary, humor, gossip, etc., pertaining to groundwater in the Borrego Valley of California and matters related thereto.  The notes and the dates they were posted/updated are listed below. Just click on the title to go to the page. Check back frequently for updates.

For additional information about current developments relating to groundwater in the Borrego Valley see also In Case You Missed It... containing an annotated bibliography of articles about groundwater in the Borrego Valley of California and efforts to manage it - or not. Last updated September 01, 2017.


  1. Tilting at Windmills posted 09 August 2017. A perplexing rant by Edward Grangetto responding to a letter to the editor of the Borrego Sun calling for the elimination of farming from the Borrego Valley.
  2. The State Groundwater Management Act and Geotourism: An Exercise in Magical Thinking posted 24 May 2017. A discursive article about a Borrego Valley Stewardship Council workshop "focused on the realities of complying with the SGMA and the potential for a 'Geotourism Solution'" does not even attempt to establish a link between these two wildly disparate topics if, in fact, there is one.
  3. Thanks for Nothing posted 20 April 2017. The Water Watchdog Group is a group of concerned citizens increasingly apprehensive about the Borrego Valley's looming water crisis caused by greedy pumpers, irresponsible BWD boards, and an indifferent public.
  4. Agricultural Land Purchases posted 26 February 2017. At least one agricultural corporation in the Valley has seen the writing on the wall and come up with an idea to cut its losses when the State Groundwater Management Act begins to bite. Others would be well advised to follow their example.
  5. Borrego Water District Appeases Pumpers at Ratepayer Peril posted 15 February 2017. The BWD board is selling-out the District's ratepayers in a wrong-headed attempt to placate pumpers by acceding to their demands.
  6. Borrego Water a letter to the Borrego Sun by Ray Shindler posted 08 February 2017. The BWD board caved-in to pumpers who dominate the Borrego Water Cabal and accepted a deal that will provide only one-third of the water required to serve the District's existing customers once the State Groundwater Management Act is implemented.
  7. Joseph Goebbels is alive and well and living in Borrego Springs! posted 08 January 2017. The Borrego Water Cabal (BWC) resorts to transparent, amateurish propaganda in a clumsy, underhanded attempt to make Borregons believe their little town would not and could not exist if agriculture left the Borrego Valley. In fact, it will not exist much longer unless agriculture is eliminated within a very few years.
  8. News from the October 26, 2016 Borrego Water District board meeting posted 12 November 2016. Borrego Valley farmers dispute USGS 5,700 a/ft/yr aquifer recharge number because the USGS study underestimated the amount of irrigation return flow. Early indications are that BWD's water quality study is unlikely to provide definitive evidence for reaching basin sustainibility sooner than the State mandated deadline of 2040 as BWD apparently hoped it would.
  9. Former BWD General Manager Tom Weber Dies posted 22 June 2016. An obituary for Tom Weber, an able and perspicacious General Manager of the Borrego Water District from 1998 - 2003.
  10. Groundwater management planning process... What you don't know posted 29 April 2016. A letter to the editor of the Borrego Sun from Ray Shindler of Borrego Springs warning against efforts by pumpers in the Borrego Valley to delay implementation of a groundwater management plan for as long as possible and the critical need for BWD ratepayers to resist these efforts and insist the the BWD return the basin to sustainability as soon as possible.
  11. The Emperor's New Clothes: Fallacies, Fictions, and Fairy Tales posted 14 April 2016. A commentary by Jim Seley (Seley Ranch) published in the San Diego Union Tribune portrays agribusinesses in the Borrego Valley as at the forefront of efforts to eliminate the overdraft of the Borrego Valley aquifer. But Seley must rely on half-truths and misrepresentations to make his case.
  12. Rudyville II: It's Baaa-ack! posted 27 January 2016, updated 04 February 2016, updated 08 February 2016. An ill-conceived, unneeded, and environmentally disastorous development in Borrego Springs receives a new lease on life with a lot of help from its friends in high places. A number of links to additional information and source-documents are included.
  13. We're All In This Alone posted 19 December 2015. Although the burden of correcting Borrego's overdraft is supposed to be shared it is falling exclusively on BWD ratepayers.
  14. AAWARE Backs Water posted 06 November 2015. AAWARE has dropped all pretense of being a responsible member of the BWC and returned to prosecuting the obstructive 3-D strategy (Deny, Deceive, and Delay) to defeat water conservation efforts that marked its ignoble history.
  15. Why Borrego Can't Solve Its Water Problem posted 29 August 2015. Four examples from one edition of the Borrego Sun.
  16. Groundwater Management Cost Sharing? posted 28 May 2015. The latest missive from the Borrego Water Cabal looks like the opening salvo in the battle over who pays how much for groundwater management in Borrego.
  17. Dissent in the Ranks of the Borrego Water Cabal posted 26 May 2015. Cracks appearing in BWC's fragile facade of sweetness and light.
  18. The Pumper's Ploy posted 21 April 2015. Borrego Water Cabal wants permanent status to continue pumper's control over Borrego's water future.
  19. Anza Borrego Desert State Park Fails to Protect Vital Resources posted 8 April 2015. ABDSP backs a Borrego Water Coalition scheme that will continue the overdraft for at least another 25 years, saddle rate payers with many millions of dollars in bonded indebtedness, require explosive development to pay it off, and ultimately fail.
  20. BWD Should Reject the BWC's Flawed Proposal posted 8 April 2015. The BWC's "Groundwater Management Policy Recommendations" to the BWD commits pumpers to nothing, but burdens residents and rate payers with questionable development and staggering bond debt. There are simpler, cheaper, faster, and better solutions.
  21. Putting California's New Groundwater Legislation in Perspective posted 26 February 2015. The new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA ) is not the panacea that the BWD and BWC would like everyone to believe it is.
  22. BWC Confused, Conflicted, and Less Than Forthcoming posted 12/07/2014. Flaws in the BWC's "Groundwater Management Policy Recommendations" to the BWD revealed in presentation to the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group.
  23. BWC Recommendations posted 12/04/2014. The BWC's "Groundwater Management Policy Recommendations" to the BWD are too little, too late, and far too timid.
  24. Of Poachers and Pumpers posted 06/12/2014. Pumpers in the Borrego Valley have much in common with big-game poachers in Africa.
  25. BWD/Rams Hill Water Agreement: Water Flows Uphill Toward Money posted 05/13/2014. Benefits of the agreement for Borrego Springs are wildly exaggerated; its many shortcomings ignored.
  26. A Specious Argument posted 05/13/2014. Attempt to blame water rate increases on BWD's purchase of Rams Hill well is disingenuous.
  27. Hubris, Hypocrisy, and Mushroom Management posted 09/11/2013. The cabal doing business as the Borrego Water Coalition (BWC).
  28. Bill Berkley Follies Presents The Dead Cat Bounce posted 09/10/2013. Rams Hill owner attempts to resurrect golf course on the cheap.
  29. The Borrego Water Cabal (BWC) posted 06/07/2013. Secret coalition of special interests to divvy up dreg's of Borrego's aquifer.
  30. Regulating and Managing California's Groundwater By Adjudication posted 06/01/2013. Adjudication of individual groundwater basins is the default method of regulating groundwater use in California and the only real option for protecting the fast disappearing Borrego Valley aquifer.
  31. An Argument for Adjudication posted 04/01/2013. Adjudication of the Borrego basin is the best of severely limited options for addressing the overdraft.
  32. Comments at the BWD 2013 Town Hall Meeting posted 04/01/2013. Borrego's attempts to save the aquifer to date represents a "a hit parade of failed ideas."
  33. Planning, Pipelines & Pipe-dreams posted 03/07/2013. Eliminating agricultural pumping from the Borrego Valley is a necessary if not sufficient condition for any realistic solution to the overdraft.
  34. BWD Must Take Control: An Essay by James Wallerstedt posted 11/14/2012. With respect to groundwater management, BWD has historically engaged in what psychologists call "Avoidance Behaviour."
  35. Latest Rams Hill Water Boondoggle posted 11/07/2012. The Borrego Water District is not an economic development agency. It should stop acting like one and stick to its mission of providing a sustainable water supply for the community.
  36. Mitigation Fee-Asco edited 11/07/2012. BWD board is trying to regulate commerce and increase growth at the expense of the aquifer by reducing the District's Groundwater Mitigation Fee.
  37. A Modest Proposal from a BWD Ratepayer posted 10/26/2012. Pumpers use a lion's share of water from the aquifer and exercise undue influence over decisions about addressing the overdraft yet pay nothing for the water they use or the costs of reducing the overdraft.
  38. Borrego Valley IRWMP v. BWD Ratepayers posted 04/21/2012. BWD touts shambolic Integrated Regional Water Management Plan program as Borrego's last, best hope.
  39. Comments at the BWD 2012 Town Hall Meeting posted 04/16/2012. Doing nothing about the overdraft, the current strategy, is not an option; only decisive action will correct the problem.
  40. Stop The Overdraft Please posted 04/10/2012. Once an aquifer is in overdraft the right to withdraw water from it can be limited, but no serious attempt to do so has ever been made in the Borrego Valley.
  41. Ode to the Aquifer: A Poem posted 04/10/2012
  42. BWD Spends $2.5 million on Groundwater Management - For What? updated 02/27/2012. The BWD has spent well over $2.5 million of rate-payer's money on "Groundwater Management" but there have been no documented groundwater savings.
  43. The Christmas Circle Conundrum posted 02/19/2012. Endemic wishful thinking in Borrego refuses to recognize limits and is destroying the aquifer.
  44. New State Law Should make Previous BWD Board, GM Nervous posted 10/17/2011 A new state law expands the authority of the State Auditor's office to examine the finances of local government agencies such as BWD which appear "at high risk" for fraud, waste or mismanagement. By all appearances BWD should be at the top of the Auditor's list.
  45. Some Observations on the BWD Rate Increase posted 05/21/2011.The misfeasance of previous BWD GM Richard S. Williamson and the incompetent board that should have been supervising him have placed the agency in a precarious financial situation. The new board and GM have no choice but to drastically increase water rates and enact severe austerity measures to correct the situation, but are reluctant to do the latter.
  46. BWD GM Richard S. Williamson Resigns updated 03/12/2011. An open letter to the lame-duck BWD board protesting the extravagant and unwarranted severance package they were preparing to and did grant the BWD GM who nearly bankrupt the District in just three short years.
  47. Williamson, The Worthies, and the Humpty-Dumpty Factor posted 03/12/2011. Response to a letter of questionable authorship complaining that the new BWD board was devoting too much time and effort to shoring up the finances of the nearly bankrupt District at the expense of groundwater management.
  48. Agricultural Quarantines in the Borrego Valley posted 12/20/2010. Two quarantines impact agriculture in the Borrego Valley.
  49. BWD Rescinds Free Medical Insurance for Directors posted 12/16/2010. The newly elected BWD board fulfilled their camaign promise and voted to discontinue paid medical, dental, and vision insurance for board members.
  50. Separating Sheep from Goats: BWD Board Candidates 2010 posted 10/02/2010. Brecht, Brecht, and Hart best qualified to fill the three open seats on the BWD Board.
  51. BWD Pissing Against the Tide posted 10/02/2010. As many Southern California water providers look to local groundwater as a cheaper, more reliable alternative to importing water from distant sources, Borrego's worthies take a contrarian position.
  52. BWD Board Election 2010: Throw the Bums Out! posted 09/18/2010. Boards of Directors are entrusted to guide and ensure a community's future, but the current BWD board has failed miserably in that regard.
  53. Shotgun Management updated 08/20/2010. BWD board members are not living up to their fiduciary responsibilities and have placed the BWD in financial jeopardy.
  54. BWD Issues Imaginary Water Credits posted 06/05/2010. BWD Water Credit and Mitigation Policy credits agribusinesses with saving substantially more water than they actually save by fallowing citrus.
  55. Only 50 Years Left!!! posted 04/30/2010. USGS declares that without significant changes in groundwater management the Borreo basin will be out of water in 50 years, i.e. by 2060. Borregans slumber on.
  56. Through the Looking Glass into Smiley's World updated 04/12/2010. Steven Smiley credits BWD with water conservation initiatives that AAWARE fought and BWD stubbornly resisted for years.
  57. BWD Tightens Restrictions on Public's Right to Know posted 02/07/2010. Members of the public must now make a formal request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to obtain even trivial information about goings on at BWD.
  58. BWD Board Unfit to Serve posted 02/02/2010. Only a new board will end the abuse of power that plagues BWD.
  59. A Bird in Hand and BWD's Imported Water Scam posted 01/22/2010. The Borrego Water District has decided to abandon efforts to save the Borrego Valley aquifer in favor of importing water.
  60. BWD General Manager Williamson's Contract Demands - Blowback posted 01/01/2010. A public uproar over the GM's outrageous contract demands forces him to withdraw them.
  61. The Man Who Would Be King: BWD General Manager Rich Williamson posted 11/21/2009. The GM submits wildly excessive contract demands to the Board. Only two directors raise concerns.
  62. Fire, Water, and Economic Development in Borrego posted 11/14/09. The history of Borrego's mandated, but never built, second fire station is a cautionary tale clearly illustrating why Borrego is in such dire straits with respect to its water supply.
  63. BWD's Claims to Openness and Public Participation Ring Hollow/updated 11/12/09. Notwithstanding the BWD General Manager's frequent claims to openness, since early 2008 when he was hired there has been a disturbing trend toward less timely and complete disclosure and more control, if not actual manipulation, of information about the District.
  64. A Tree Grows in Borrego - Or Not? posted 10/16/09. Pointless, confused, and contradictory discussion at a BWD Water Conservation Committee meeting illustrates why millions of dollars spent on groundwater management have produced no effect.
  65. BWD Board refuses to do the right thing - again posted 08/12/09. On June 24 the BWD board had yet another opportunity to reverse its incredibly selfish decision to rip-off ratepayers, most of whom can only dream of the platinum-plated free medical coverage directors casually bestowed upon themselves last December. And again they walked away
  66. BWD Service Policy: Heads I win, tails you lose posted 06/20/09. The Borrego Water District's recently issued Water Service Policy is indicative of the arbitrary, capricious, and careless manner in which the Borrego Water District far too often conducts business.
  67. BWD's amended medical insurance policy for board members? posted 01/30/09. Cowardly BWD board once again hides its self-serving and questionable actions from public scrutiny.
  68. Letter to the Borrego Sun re BWD board medical insurance posted 01/24/09. BWD Board ignores professional advice they paid for, deeply offended their constituents, and provoked a demand for a recall.
  69. Critique of BWD Integrated Water Resources Management Plan posted 01/10/09. In October 2008, the Borrego Water District released the 4th draft of an Integrated Water Resources Management Plan (IWRMP) that was essentially developed behind closed doors with no public participation and by a lead author who has a notorious conflict of interest. It shows.
  70. The Story of Five Little Pigs on the BWD Board posted 01/08/09. The BWD board "unanimously approved implementing an existing policy that will pay the entire cost of providing health insurance for themselves" and their dependents, amended the policy "to include domestic partners," and stuck it to ratepayers again.
  71. New, Improved DAI/Community Plan for Borrego posted 12/30/08. Desert Area Initiative (DAI) committee takes criticism to heart and makes groundwater management and assurance of a sustainable water supply "Job Number One" as it should be.
  72. Mediocracy: Borrego's Default Form of Local Government posted 10/20/08. The candidates for BWD's board are, but for one, a sorry lot.
  73. Desert Area Initiative (DAI) - Again! posted 10/07/08 The Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group (CSG) recently set about "morphing the Desert Area Iniative 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, however, the DAI ad hoc committee managed to ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room: Groundwater and groundwater management.
  74. Comments on BWD Manager's Report of August 2008 posted 09/12/08. The BWD Manager's Report of August 2008 may be a well-intentioned effort to inform ratepayers about the District's efforts to ensure the Valley's water supply as advertised. More likely it is just another disingenuous attempt by General Manager Rich Williamson to give the illusion of progress on addressing the Valley's deteriorating water supply situation while actually doing nothing.
  75. The Case for Saving the Aquifer vs. Importing Water posted 08/28/08. BWD's General Manager arbitrarily decided that the Borrego Valley aquifer was a lost cause; so irrigators should be allowed to pump it dry while the district imports water to serve its customers. There is a whole raft of reasons not to like this bone-headed strategy.
  76. How to Motivate Water Conservation posted 07/26/08
  77. Clark Dry Lake Con Game posted 07/03/08
  78. Implementation of Tiered Rates: Ready. Fire! Aim. posted 06/27/08
  79. Fallowing Ag Land Best Solution to Overdraft posted 05/28/08
  80. Tiered Rates: Deja vu all over again posted 04/24/08
  81. BWD Gives Away the Store in Tiered Rates Negotiations posted 04/19/08
  82. Case for a Pump Tax in the Borrego Basin: Challenge and Response posted 04/12/08
  83. Tiered Rates Proposal: A Dissenting Opinion posted 04/10/08
  84. A Fair and Equitable Way to Finance Fixing the Aquifer/revised/03/30/08
  85. Water and Borrego Springs: An Essay by James Wallerstedt posted 03/15/08
  86. Tiered Water Rates: The 1% Solution posted 03/12/08
  87. BWD Board Cover Up posted 03/06/08
  88. The Precautionary Principle: A Cautionary Tale posted 02/14/08
  89. Borrego Basin: A case statement for State Control of Groundwater and Water Agencies in California posted 01/07/08
  90. Reuben Ellis and the Pinocchio Progressive Protruding Proboscis Problem posted 01/04/08
  91. Analysis of a Flim-Flam: Coyote Creek Water Grab posted 12/07/07
  92. History of a Flim-Flam: Coyote Creek Water Grab posted 12/07/07
  93. Water Wasted in Construction posted 11/03/07
  94. Interpretation of data from BWD Monitoring Wells 4 & 5 posted 10/08/07
  95. LA Times Article (08/11/07) About Borrego's Water Shortage posted 09/22/07
  96. Smiley's Complaint posted 09/20/07
  97. More Bad News for Borrego posted 08/01/07
  98. Straight Talk On Tiered Rates posted 07/09/07
  99. A Perspective on Development in the Borrego Valley posted 06/17/07
  100. Water Factoids posted 05/26/07
  101. Red Flags Over Borrego posted 05/24/07
  102. Rudyville: Urban Sprawl Comes to Borrego posted 05/16/07
  103. Conflicts of Interest Threaten the Borrego Valley/revised/05/08/07
  104. DAI Spells Disaster posted 04/26/07
  105. Borrego Springs: A Worst Case Scenario posted 04/03/07
  106. Summary of California Conflict-of-Interest Laws posted 03/13/07
  107. BWD Board Set to Destroy Its Only Groundwater Management Accomplishment posted 02/20/07
  108. Save Water and $: Fix Your Toilet posted 01/31/07
  109. Frankenstein in the Desert: Rams Hill/Montesoro posted 12/19/06
  110. A Partial Bibliography of Sources: Groundwater in the Borrego Valley/updated/11/25/06
  111. Owens Valley South posted 11/18/06
  112. Ellis Farms Inc.'s Big Lie 1.1 posted /11/11/06
  113. Election 2006: Recap and Lament posted 11/10/06/
  114. Community Facilities District Informational Meeting on 9/27/06 posted 09/30/06
  115. Gang of 3 Guts Groundwater Mitigation Policy posted 09/24/06
  116. Borrego's Two Impotent Water Agencies posted 08/18/06
  117. Ellis Farms Inc.'s Expansion posted 06/11/06
  118. BWD Groundwater Management Plan Update for FY 2007 posted 04/29/06
  119. The Difficulty with Easy Solutions posted 04/09/06
  120. Tamarisk Groundwater Depletion/posted 03/25/06
  121. Conjunctive Use: A Reality Check posted 03/09/06
  122. Denial Ain't Just a River; Oldies Ain't Just Tunes posted 02/02/06
  123. Engelke's Prescription: Wrong Medicine for What Ails Borrego/ posted 12/01/05
  124. Landscaping in the Sonoran Desert by Barnaby Davidson posted 11/29/05
  125. BWD Groundwater Mitigation Program Only Half Done posted 11/20/05
  126. BWD Board Must Reform Procedural Rules For Committees/updated/11/29/05
  127. Governator vetoes California's Mega Water Bill posted 11/02/05
  128. Glitch in Implementing BWD Groundwater Mitigation Policy posted 10/25/05
  129. Free-Water Surface Evaporation Rates In/Around The Anza-Borrego Desert posted 10/19/05
  130. Groundwater Mitigation Policy Amended posted 10/13/05
  131. Crisis Feared for Borrego Water Supply posted 09/25/05
  132. Fortiners Take First Step Toward Accurate Measure Of Agricultural Water Use posted 09/23/05
  133. A Primer for Water Utility Decision Makers posted 09/20/05
  134. Borrego's Booming Real Estate Market: Opportunity or Sucker-Bait posted 08/30/05
  135. SB 820 Summary posted 08/30/05
  136. BWD Passes Groundwater Mitigation at 3:1 for New Development posted 08/27/05
  137. SB 820: California's Mega Water Bill Good for Borrego posted 08/22/05
  138. DPLU Policy Re Borrego Valley Groundwater Use posted 07/01/05
  139. Demythologizing Groundwater Use Mitigation posted 06/19/05
  140. Post-Mortem on BWD 2005 Annual Groundwater Meeting posted03/18/05
  141. 3 Groundwater Use Mitigation Policies for Borrego: Analysis & Recommendations posted 02/25/05
  142. The Borrego Water District Board From Bad To Worse posted 01/19/05
  143. Seley Ranch Installs World's Largest Solar-Powered Irrigation System posted 01/08/05
  144. DWR Advocates Sustainable Use As Solution To Overdraft posted 12/26/04
  145. The Great Wall of Borrego posted 11/08/04
  146. Urgent Need for Action by BWD to Prevent Depletion of the Aquifer (April 2004) posted 03/22/08

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