BWD Reviews Stip Public Comments, WMB Selection Process
Last updated 1/28/2020 at 10:28am
With the Stipulated Judgment (the Stip, and its accompanying Groundwater Management Plan (GMP, formerly GSP and all but identical) becoming official last month after public review and comment, Borrego Water District General Manager Geoff Poole and attorney Steve Anderson summarized the comments and responses, most of which were included in the Jan. 9 issue of the Borrego Sun.
Many comments were related to the way the Water Master Board would be formed and utilized throughout the 20-year implementation period. After the summary, the BWD Board of Directors gave unanimous approval to execute the settlement agreement.
The Stip contains the legal framework for major pumpers in the Valley to set up a formal management structure, the Water Master Board (WMB) presided over by a judge in Superior Court, to comply with all the requirements under State laws governing groundwater sustainability.
“This is the first time in 45 years we have the ability to take action,” Anderson said.
About 75% of all pumpers are covered by the Stip, but he says he is trying for 90% or above. The names of parties to the Stip will be known, as well as those “stragglers,” who do not agree to participate in such a popular and community-wide approved program. Anderson said a spotlight on stragglers could be an effective means of persuasion to participate. They could be added now or later, but there will be little to no likelihood of further changes made to the Stip to accommodate them.
No major issues arose in the Stip’s public comment period that would delay implementation. Several minor items were adjusted, including: the requirement for fallowing first, then water credits will be received after; and the school district’s 20-odd acre-feet per year of water usage will be exempt from inclusion as a major pumper (defined as greater than two acre-feet/year). Also, if and when the Water Master Board has only three members present out of the expected five members, any vote on any subject must be unanimous.
One issue settled by the Stip was “parties in disagreement” on the WMB. The Community Representative can now appeal any decision made, and use the legal resources provided to the WMB to do so.
On the agenda for the BWD meeting on Jan. 14 was pinpointing the date(s) for hearing from the persons nominated for the Community Rep on the Water Master Board. The candidates so far are Mark Jorgensen, Bri Fordem, Rebecca Falk, and Martha Deichler.