Borrego's WaterMaster Board Meeting
Last updated 6/1/2020 at 12:34pm
This is a short report about what was a relatively short meeting, called sooner than expected because nine firms had responded to the call for applicants for an attorney for the Board. The nine firms’ responses were affirmed by the Board so interviews could begin.
The WM Board also decided that those interviews should be in closed session, following standard practices that keep applicants’ interviews from being seen by other applicants. This keeps any firm from gaining advantage by seeing a previous firm’s interview.
All pumpers who were signatories to the Stipulated Judgement will be able to view applications, and Board Directors and their Alternates will as well. Dave Duncan asked that he be able to share the applications in closed session with the Borrego Water District Board, and that will be responded to at the next meeting. The Board is considering a request to show video statements from the final short list of firms chosen at a public meeting prior to the final vote on which firm to hire, but that could be complicated because the decision may be made by the time this could be arranged, and doing so is not a common practice.
An External Communications Policy was proposed by Director Shannon Smith (Recreation) that would limit all media inquiries to the as-yet-to-be-hired Executive Director and would prohibit Board Members/Directors from giving interviews or having other external communications using their titles.
Under this proposal, Board Members would have to use only their personal names and specify that they can only offer opinions, not speak for the WM Board.
A discussion was had and the Policy will be considered again at the next meeting, after consideration of issues raised and possibly with some modifications. Director Mark Jorgensen (Community) pointed out that Borrego Springs is a small town and folks rely on the Borrego Sun to stay informed. He said he could work with offering his opinion in external communications but pointed out that questions from the Sun and other media sources are likely to be asked of a WM Board Director/Member precisely because of that Director’s position.
Rich Pinel, Alternate Director (Recreation) and Manager of the RoadRunner Golf Club, reported on invoices that Smith had prepared for reimbursements by signatories to the Stipulation Judgement for expenses for work already done on the GMP (Groundwater Management Plan).
Each party is to pay according to the percentage of water pumped (using the established Baseline Pumping Allocations). Invoices cover reimbursements to AAWARE (Farmer organization) for water resources engineering; to BWD for payments advanced on behalf of the WM Board to Dudek (engineering consultant), and for the legal service that will send letters to all land owners in Borrego once the judge initiates overview of the GMP, and also for several reports Dudek has made for the WM Board, including the mandatory annual report to DWR (Department of Water Resources).
Interestingly, De Anza Golf Estates has not responded to the invoice sent to it, perhaps because it is not a signatory to the Stipulation Judgement and has chosen not to participate so far. Presumably all pumpers will participate once a judge is actively involved with the adjudication that will affirm Borrego’s Water Plan.
Lastly, Alternate Director Mike Bozick (Agriculture) reported on the status of water meter installations and also initiated a discussion agendized by Director Dave Duncan (BWD) about collecting pumping data before the beginning of the first full water pumping data collection year, which begins October 1, 2020 and runs through September 30, 2021.
It seems all pumpers are likely to have new or recalibrated meters up and running before the end of May. Some discussion about this occurred, and BWD Counsel Steve Anderson suggested that the time between full meter installation and Oct. 1 be used to make sure all meters were transmitting data accurately to a central depository, and that all bugs were worked out, so that all would work well on Oct. 1.
He added that collecting data in this interim period is in line with making sure the system is up and running in time to collect data for the first year of water reductions. This will come up at the next meeting, as someone has to start coordinating the data.
The date of the next WM Board Meeting is not yet determined, so if you are following these meetings, do check the BWD web page regularly to view the meeting announcement and any posted agendas, which can be viewed there 72 hours prior to a meeting.
BWD’s web page is http://www.bvgsp.org.