MWA Approves Five Percent Ramp-down
February 28, 2018 – The Mojave Water Agency in its role as Watermaster voted, on a thin four to three majority, to continue to ramp down water usage in our valley by major water users subject to the 1996 water judgment, Directors Lowry, Cox, and Ventura voting against the ramp-down. The ramp-down reduces the base annual water allotment to each major water user to thirty-five percent of their usage prior to that 1996 judgment.
Alisa Ellsworth of California Fish and Wildlife spoke in favor of the ramp-down, and Annette DeJong of Newberry spoke against the ramp-down.
Chuck Bell of the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association emphasized the fact that only stipulators to the 1996 court judgment were required to ramp-down where newer heavy water users not subject to the judgment were creating a serious inequity in water usage needing immediate attention by the Watermaster. He also mentioned that the so-called minimal users, those defined by previous surveys as using only one or two acre feet of water per year are currently using far more, although he offered no specific instances of such excess.
Ms. Dejong commented that any further ramp-down would be disastrous to both the farmers and the Newberry economy since the heavy water users contribute significantly to the Newberry property tax base as well a provide employment for Newberry residents.
Thus there appears to be a trade-off between running out of water prematurely in our valley, with the consequent total destruction of the economy versus abandonment of farming properties that contribute perhaps about half of the property tax base, currently twice as much as Daggett or Yermo, which finances local and county services such as fire, parks, recreation, and road maintenance.
Fish and Wildlife