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Watermaster Board Hires Executive Director, Technical Consultant


Last updated 9/3/2020 at 9:11am

Samantha Adams, Vice-President and Principal Scientist II, of Wildermuth Environmental, attended the Aug. 13 meeting of the Borrego Springs Interim Watermaster Board, as the contract with Wildermuth Environmental was finalized a the meeting and scheduled for a vote at the next meeting. Samantha will be the Executive Director for the WMB.

Andy Malone, Principal Geologist, Vice-President and Partner of Wildermuth, will be the WMB’s Technical Consultant. Present and voting to approve the contract were Directors Jim Bennett, Alternate Martha Deichler (standing in for Mark Jorgensen), Dave Duncan and Shannon Smith. While Director Jim Seley and his Alternate Mike Bozick were absent, Ag Attorney Michelle Staples was present and conveyed Seley’s support for the Wildermuth hires.

Changes to the Wildermuth contract were presented by Attorney Nick Ghirelli (standing in for WMB Attorney Jim Markman) after the closed session portion of the meeting. Prior to the vote on contract revisions, Director Bennett said the following in a statement in which he also gave high praise for Wildermuth as a “seasoned leader” in administrative and technical water services in many other basins:

“In my work on the WMB, I believe the most important aspect of the work we are doing is the actual people we are working for the pumpers, the community, the stakeholders, and the real investments made in this community and all the interests that are near and dear to everybody who is involved in this process. So in selecting technical consultants with a lot of expertise in geeky groundwater modeling and evaluation, and myself being a hydrogeologist, we can get focused on technical work and the weakness can be connecting that technical with the people that we work for; in developing the tools that we are developing this can be lost in translation.”

“One of the things that struck me in hearing Samantha and Andy, Samantha being considered for the Executive Director position and Andy for the Technical Consultant – it became clear that they take great care in working with stakeholders, in listening, hearing, and have a desire to clearly communicate and try to develop mutual understanding around the technical aspects of their work. I think that this technical expertise will be met with strong soft skills, which is going to be a key part of serving this community and the fact that the most important part of this process is the people in it.”

The WMB approved a motion by Director Smith to thank Geoff Poole and Esmeralda Garcia for their work helping the WMB begin to function and to appoint them as the WMB’s Founding Executive Director and Administrative Assistant, for which they will each receive a commemoration.

BWD’s request for a credit applied to their pumping fees to the WMB to recoup costs associated with the services of BWD staff members General Manager Geoff Poole and Esmeralda Garcia will be considered at the next WMB meeting, so this item was continued until then.

Meter installation and reading was the next item on the agenda. Director Smith noted that the first meter reading will occur in only 48 days. The discussion was about the need for a plan for reading meters, even for the October reading if done by BWD staff, and for meter reading services beyond that first one. Deichler suggested supporting locals and saving money by training and hiring community members to read meters, rather than paying consultants to drive into Borrego. Poole supported this idea, although BWD would be needed for the first reading.

Details about what a meter reading plan might look like would have to provide for payment by individual pumpers for their meter readings. Recreation Alternate Director Rich Pinel suggested that after cost calculations are made, a service fee might make more sense than having to record travel time and time at each property for each meter reading event.

The BWD Board directed ED Adams to bring a proposal for a protocol to the next meeting that takes these factors into account and also a meter third party certification verification form so pumpers can submit the form to show that their meter data will be accurate.

The last item discussed was the Right of Entry form/permit document that is part of the Stipulated Judgment. These agreements have to be in place prior to the first meter readings The ED will bring to the next meeting a meter program that can be attached to the existing Right of Entry so that signatures can be obtained.

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