Update June 22, 2022: DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES SGMA-GSP Facilitation Services Program, Sponsored by the Indian Wells Valley Water District

Contact your Legislators via their Email Portals

Indian Wells Valley, Owens Valley, Kern County, Ridgecrest, Trona, Inyokern, Inyo County

Kevin McCarthy R-CA District 20

Shannon Grove R-CA Senate District 16

Vince Fong R-CA, Assembly Distict 34

June 19, 2022 Complaint Filed at DWR Re: Basin 6-054 IWV Groundwater Authority GSP Corrective Action 1, RGS Authority and City of Ridgecrest

Update: June 14, 2022

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California

Coso Operating Company LLC has joined a DWR Facilitation Stakeholder Group together with the Ridgecrest Area Association of Realtors and the IWV Economic Development Corporation.

For more information:

Update: June 2, 2022

Wednesday June 1st, Ridgecrest City Council meeting, 55 minutes. No IWVGA discussions.

Draft letter approved by the Ridgecrest City Council to the Department of Water Resources regarding the facilitation process is pending. (City Attorney comments after closed session)

Indian Wells Valley Planning Committee Work Plan

The Work Plan timeline consists of three key tasks:

  1. Process Initiation (April 2022 – May 2022)
  • Committee formation and facilitation
  1. Stakeholder Assessment (May 2022 – July 2022)
  • 15 one-on-one or small group interviews
  • Online survey
  1. Public Meetings (July 2022 – December 2022)
  • Committee meetings, public workshops, and presentations
  • This task is optional and will only proceed with the facilitator’s recommendation

Task 1 of the Work Plan (Process Initiation) has already been completed. The Planning Committee was formed, and a Work Plan was created to help define committee goals and decision-making processes. A public meeting was held on May 17th to share the Work Plan and give updates on recent milestones in the FSS process. With the completion of Task 1, the Work Plan will now move onto Task 2 which consists of a stakeholder assessment. The purpose of a stakeholder assessment is to evaluate the needs and conditions of a project as they relate to stakeholders and community, identify any non-technical risks, and determine the best engagement techniques for the circumstances.

A stakeholder assessment is intended to gather key information on following questions concerning stakeholders:

  • Who are they? (Citizen, Partner, Provider, Regulator)
  • What do they care about?
  • Who are their trusted messengers?
  • What are the best ways (how) to connect with them?
  • When should we talk to them / sensitivity?
  • What do we need to know from them?

For this FSS Program, the stakeholder assessment will consist of 15-20 one-on-one or small group interviews and an online survey open to all members of the community. A link to the online survey can be found at the top of this page. The survey will allow members of the community to provide feedback on the local groundwater management challenges being faced and provide input on the potential options the basin should consider moving forward.

Facilitation Services are Part of DWR’s SGMA Implementation Program

Approximately 50 residents, Council members and Board Members gathered for a public meeting introducing the DWR to the Ridgecrest City Council and the Indian Wells Valley.

Paul Gosselin, Deputy Director of SGMA’s Implentation Program was accompanied by a facilitator named Lisa from Stantec’s SGMA Facilitation Team.

Stakeholders often don’t reach consensus. The Facilitation program is meant to iron out disagreements and to create dialog in the community. A professional, neutral party is helpful to build bridges and have some frank discussions.

Paul Gosselin, Department of Water Resources
DWR – SGMA Implementation Program

The Facilitation Plan Includes the Valley’s Five Largest Pumpers

The meeting and facilitation effort will be conducted by DWR and Stantec, a firm providing SGMA’s Facilitation Services program.

The Facilitation Plan includes the valley’s five large pumpers. All residents are impacted by GSP and all five have indicated an intent to participate actively in the DWR facilitation process. They are,

  • Indian Wells Valley Water District
  • U.S. Navy
  • Mojave Pistachios
  • Searles Valley
  • Meadowbrook

Other Stakeholders in the basin will also be participants in the facilitation plan. They will be determined after a DWR and Stantec assessment and will be brought into the facilitation process at the appropriate time.

IWV Water District Facilitation Information Page

Sponsored By the IWV Water District

What is SGMA?

Facilitation Overview and Services

Public Presentation by DWR hosted by IWV Water District on 5/17/2022

Water District attorneys Jim Worth and Doug Evertz made a brief presentation to start the meeting.

Any discussion should begin with SGMA and the GSP and the intended actions needed to bring the basin into sustainability

Four Factors:

The IWV basin 6-54 is a High Priority, critically over-drafted basin.

IWV has 25,000 acre feet of pumping.

The Replenishment Fee is charged for every acre foot of water over and above the current recharge of 7,650 acre feet of water per year.

Replenishment fee is to be used to purchase imported water.

Jim Worth, IWVWD Attorney

IWVWD ratepayers are currently paying $4.25 million per year for the IWVGA Replenishment Fee.

Submission of the GSP to DWR and the resulting implementation actions proposed by the GA resulted in the filing of seven lawsuits to date, challenging the GSP, the implementation actions and some of them are requesting a court declaration binding water rights for everybody in the valley.

As a result of the lawsuits, the IWVWD made the decision to file for a comprehensive adjudication with two intentions:

1. To bring long term certainty.

2. To bring a final and binding court determination as to the water rights in the basin. The GA lacks the authority to determine water rights. The only person that can do that is the judge. It’s why the Water District filed the adjudication.

Jim Worth, IWVWD Attorney

The DWR has been offering SGMA Facilitation services to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority since last July, when it first sent a letter to Stakeholders in the valley.

Water District attorney Jim Worth explained how the facilitation plan came about:

On July 16th DWR sent a letter to all Stakeholders in the basin offering facilitation support to bring the Stakeholders together to address the challenges facing the basin with SGMA, the GSP and related lawsuits.

The GA was intended to be the lead agency for the facilitation and they declined for reasons they can speak to.

Fortunately, DWR did not stop there. They contacted the Water District to see if the district was interested in taking over as the lead agency and trying to move the facilitation forward. Much to the reluctance of legal counsel, the District board instructed staff to work with DWR and Stantec to go ahead and see we were able to make the facilitation work.

The facilitation services offered by DWR include 9 specific categories, so it took a couple of months working with DWR and Stantec to jointly prepare a work plan.

Jim Worth, IWVWD Attorney, 5/17/22 DWR Facilitation Public Meeting

DWR Approved the Groundwater Sustainability Plan in January 2022

Last July, although the GSP hadn’t been approved, DWR reached out to all Stakeholders in the basin offering Facilitation knowing that the IWVGA and community are divided while the GSP was the subject of seven lawsuits.

Continuing on, while recognizing the many issues with a Groundwater Sustainability Plan that was submitted over 2 years ago with unresolved data gaps critical to an evaluation of our basin overdraft, recharge and water in storage. DWR approved the plan while issuing numerous corrective actions that will be resolved with additional Manaagment Actions and potential alternative projects, for another evaluation by DWR no later than January 2025.

Jim Worth, IWVWD Attorney

For more information on the IWV Groundwater Sustainability Plan please see:

For a laugh or two please see:

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