IWV GROUNDWATER AUTHORITY Slapped Down By Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeals (Mojave Pistachios Scores!) IWV WATER DISTRICT to Hold Special Meeting on Emergency Water Release Project With LADWP (IWVWD Scores!)
May 4, 2023
In what could be one of the most important news developments since the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority passed the State of California’s mandated Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), the Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeals has deemed that the GA must show cause as to why the Court shouldn’t grant Mojave Pistachio’s petition for writ of mandate that challenges the GSP’s allocation of water rights in the Indian Wells Valley. Please see the press release from Mojave Pistachios below.
The decision by the Appellate Court further deepens the hole the GA is digging itself into while concerns mount that the Authority has been unable to produce an audited financial statement since it’s inception and is now confronted with the task of finding a new auditor that can produce an audited financial statement.
The Indian Wells Valley Water District has been paying the “Groundwater Authority Replenishment Fee” to the tune of $4 million per year for the past 2 years on behalf of district ratepayers and is doing so “under protest”.
Press release from Mojave Pistachios
(Ridgecrest) – The Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeal issued an order last week compelling the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) to show cause as to why the Court should not grant Mojave Pistachios’ petition for writ of mandate in its legal action challenging the IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Mojave’s petition asks the court to rule on questions of state-wide importance, including that pumping allocations adopted by groundwater sustainability agencies like the IWVGA must be consistent with California groundwater rights law.
In 2020, Mojave filed suit against the IWVGA, asking the court to invalidate the IWVGA’s unconstitutional GSP and actions implementing the GSP and requesting more than $255,000,000 in damages. This action came after the IWVGA gave Mojave, a zero groundwater allocation. The complaint alleges, among other contentions, that the IWVGA misused the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in an attempt to eradicate agriculture from the Indian Wells Valley.
Mojave filed its petition for writ of mandate to the Court of Appeal in February after the trial court agreed with the IWVGA’s argument that Mojave Pistachios should not be allowed to challenge the IWVGA’s pumping allocations or prove up its takings case against the IWVGA. Appellate courts rarely grant writ relief; approximately 90-95 percent of petitions for writ of mandate are summarily denied.
The California Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association and Searles Valley Minerals each filed an amicus letter with the Court in support of Mojave’s petition. In its letter, Western Growers Association states “We believe that the trial court order in this case is contrary to SGMA and undermines the longstanding rights of landowners.”
Last week’s order gives the IWVGA an opportunity to submit a formal response brief and the parties may then request oral argument. Further, the order also stays the trial court case pending a further order from the Court of Appeal.
Established in 2011, Mojave Pistachios farms approximately 1,600 acres of pistachios near Ridgecrest, California.
2023 Emergency Release Mitigation Project – Indian Wells Valley Water District
The Water District is also holding a special Board of Directors meeting on Monday May 8th at 4:00 pm at the water district offices. The purpose of the meeting is to approve a Plan called the 2023 Emergency Release Mitigation Project to manage water releases from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s aqueduct that runs through the west side of the Indian Wells Valley. The project is outlined in the Notice of Exemption filed below:
For background on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan and SGMA, please see