BWD Special Meeting Focuses on Answers to Public Questions
Last updated 8/7/2019 at 1:26pm
By Geoff Poole, Borrego Water District General Manager and Michael Sadler, Borrego Sun Staff Writer
A special meeting of the Borrego Water District was held July 9, and along with the general layout for the term sheet for a stipulated adjudication (see article on front page, continued below) between all pumpers in Borrego Springs sub-basin. The primary advantages of the stipulation include litigation avoidance and implementation of measures sooner.
At the meeting, the BWD Board authorized its negotiators to continue the process, during which the public will have the opportunity to provide input.
During the meeting there were various questions raised by members of the public, and answered by the BWD’s legal counsel, Steve Anderson. Rebecca Falk from the Sponsor Group asked about CEQA compliance, and how the proposed Stipulation affects it.
Anderson explained that terms of the stipulation is formed by a Superior Court judge, the courts are not subject to CEQA, and therefore neither is the WaterMaster Board.
Falk then asked whether the proposed Stipulated Judgement in which all non-de minimus wells (less than two acre-feet/year) are to be metered by March 31, 2029 would replace the program set forth in the GSP. Anderson replied that the Stipulation provides for installation by the manufacturer OR a certified meter installer AND annual certification. Director Duncan added the Stipulation terms were consistent with those of the GSP.
Falk asked whether water rights acquired through the water trading program, but not used, would expire and further suggested a cap on how much a particular entity could own. Anderson explained that the judgment will create water rights vested by the Court and language to prevent speculation will be included.
A water transfer program is contemplated as a Project and Management Action, and fallowing standards will be included. The County’s Jim Bennett asked what would happen to the existing water credits, and Anderson replied that they would be included in the Baseline Pumping Allocations.
Falk also pointed out that Agriculture and Recreation don’t represent many people, and some may eventually leave the Valley. She suggested a 7-member Board, perhaps including the Park or a second BWD or Community rep. Anderson remarked that the composition of the Board could be changed over time with approval of the judge. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is also contemplated, working under the Board, and Diane Johnson suggested an economist be included for the TAC.
We’ll be keeping track of further developments.