The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board took the bulk of last week’s meeting discussing the addition of members within a format established in the Joint Powers Agreement that all members signed nearly three years ago.
The thorny topic: adding a representatives from area tribes, mutual water companies and what are defined as interested parties.
Ken Toy, president of the Meadow Creek Mutual Water Company, was voted onto the board as an Associate Member with two votes and a payment of $11,000 a year during the plan preparation period to contribute toward staff costs. The logic was simple: Toy will have two votes on matters that come before the board, half the voting power at half the cost of the other entities.
Mel Joseph, environmental director for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation, was voted in as the OVGA’s tribal representative as an Interested Party. The primary issue: Native American lands are considered sovereign nations and as such won’t be required to adhere to any regulations established by the OVGA’s final Groundwater Sustainability Plan.
The board voted unanimously to accept Joseph on the board.
Mary Roper, president of the Owens Valley Committee, requested a seat at the table as an Interested Party. Again, the JPA allowed for environmental groups on the board in that category. Roper told the board she would provide another perspective, explaining the enabling legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s intent was to protect the environment. “I’m not going to stage a coup with one vote,” she said.
Bishop City Council representative Chris Costello was afraid the OVC wanted “to make a change as to how the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power operates.” Mono County rep Supervisor Fred Stump expressed concern about “special interest groups” on the board.
Supervisor Dan Totheroh, Inyo County’s rep, countered the arguments. “If OVC’s interests were counter to ours, that would be a concern. But, their objective is the same.”
Roper was voted onto the board with a 4-2 vote. Stump and Costello were the two “no” votes.
Once all that was decided, Tony Morgan, vice president of Daniel B. Associates, the consultants, went through a presentation defining the objectives of SGMA and the final plan.
In essence, the final GSP will establish a minimum threshold (a quantitative value that if exceeded may cause an undesirable result) and measurable objectives (specific, quantifiable goals for the maintenance or improvement of specified groundwater conditions).
The OVGA’s plan will establish a range within which the basin’s water level would be sustainable. The goals have to be met within a 20 years.