WaterMaster Board Prepares for Regular Meetings and Operations


Last updated 9/11/2020 at 10:20am

At its Aug. 27 meeting, under the guidance of Executive Director Samantha Adams and Counsel Jim Markman, the Borrego Springs Interim WaterMaster Board discussed preparing to move to regularly scheduled meetings once a month, and preparing to enact rules that will bring the Board’s actions into alignment with provisions of the Stipulation Agreement so that once the court formally establishes the WMB, the Board will be in a position to reaffirm all prior actions taken.

Markman suggested a number of things toward this end: the election of a Chair and Vice-Chair, the appointment of a non-voting Secretary and Treasurer to the Board, formally adopting the rules in the Settlement Agreement, as well as establishing a physical location, either in Borrego Springs or perhaps at Wildermuth’s offices in Orange County, where mail would be sent and records kept. Board Members Jim Bennett, Dave Duncan, Martha Deichler (for Mark Jorgensen), Jim Seley and Shannon Smith unanimously voted to put these items on the next agenda.

ED Adams introduced guidelines for verification of meter installation and certification. The agenda packet for the Aug. 27 meeting has sample forms showing the information and photographic evidence that will be required to establish this for all meters prior to October 1, 2020, and can be found at: http://www.bvgsp.org/watermaster-board-meetings.html. Two companies were presented as approved meter verification and calibration vendors: McCall’s Meter Sales and Service in Hemet and Pump Check in Riverside – contact information can be found in the same agenda packet.

There was a lengthy discussion about the first and subsequent meter readings. ED Adams will come back to the next meeting with a form for the Borrego Water District to fill out for the first meter readings. There seemed to be general agreement that having BWD staff do the first readings was the least expensive option and the simplest to arrange, with some provision for making sure that the reading of BWD’s own meters would be impartial.

Counsel Markman mentioned that the Settlement Agreement adopted a specific form providing permission/license to enter property to read meters and that the requirements on that document are high and protect the property owners but not the WMB. ED Adams mentioned that the insurance requirements in the entry document are amongst the biggest hurdles of the permit. It was noted that BWD can satisfy those insurance requirements but others may not be able to do so. The Board voted unanimously to direct its staff to work with BWD for the initial meter read and to work on the right of entry permits.

The Board did not vote on a request to provide a letter of support for the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council’s application to the CA Department of Conservation for the 2020 Sustainable Groundwater Management Watershed Coordinator Grant Program, intended to fund a broad and inclusive community-wide discussion about a vision for Borrego’s future.

Director Smith thought this was an issue outside the focus of the WMB and Director Bennett, although not personally opposed, said he would have to know more than time allowed in order to make sure he didn’t have a conflict of interest in his roles with the County and the WMB.

Since there is a lot of business to conduct next month, the special meeting schedule will continue in September as follows:

Thursday, September 10 at 4:30 p.m. via teleconference

Thursday, September 24 at 4:30 p.m. via teleconference

Until the WMB has its own web page and contact email, requests to be added to the email list for agendas can be made directly to ED Samantha Adams of Wildermuth Environmental at: sadams@weiwater.com.