NSHPOA Supports Draft Landspreading Ordinance
January 8, 2018 - The Association has submitted a letter to all County Supervisors citing its support for a draft ordinance proposed to replace the existing landspreading provisions of the San Bernardino County Code.
Landspreading is a common term used to describe the spreading of sewage sludge, an acknowledged toxic material, on agricultural properties as opposed to less dangerous materials such as animal manure and chemical fertilzers such as ammonium nitrate.
Existing county code mandates landspreading separation from lactating cattle, a public water supply well, any live stream, lake or surface impoundments (uncovered settling ponds, etc,) of one-half mile, and 500 feet from residences, institutions, and farms producing crops for human consumption.
The ongoing development of solar power promises a future where fewer fossil fuel resources will be required to provide the critical energy requirements of our time. But is it the ultimate solution to our energy needs considering the requirements for the commitment of enormous quantities of real estate on which to place these so-called renewable energy sources? Will our " wide open spaces " soon be occupied by gargantuan fields of solar devices that rob the earths flora and fauna of life giving energy? These are but a few of the questions facing us, denizens of the beautiful and serene but fragile deserts of the American Southwest.
Here in Newberry Springs our local experience with solar power has been a controversial installation on Mountain View Road of a 1.3 megawatt photovoltaic facility. Some years ago now, there were approved plans for a similar facility that promised a far lighter footprint than the one contructed by Soitec, a company with headquarters in Grenoble, France. The property has been taken over from the original owner, which had specified much smaller array platforms that would not have caused as significant an impact as the huge platforms that have actually been installed.
A substantial number of local residents on Mountain View have complained, to no avail, about the destruction of their local vista from the unsightly arrays, as well as the dust and sand from construction and ongoing denuding of property with the destruction of desert plant life which stabilizes the soil.
In March of 2014 a meeting was held between a number local community representatives and Soitec. Various questions related to the maintenance of the property and the responsiveness of the company to various concerns were raised, with a promise by Soitec to continue dialog with the affected Newberry Springs residents, and perhaps to address the issue of blowing sand from the installation.
As a result of issues raised not only by Newberry Springs, but also other areas of the high desert, the County of San Bernardino has taken note of concerns about various other solar installations in the high desert, and has actually in one case at least refused approval of other installations based on opposition to such installations, especially in populated areas.
The County has also created a web site, http://cms.sbcounty.gov/lus/Planning/RenewableEnergy.aspx, where concerned citizens can view renewable energy information. There was a site www.sparcforum.org where residents could express their concerns and get information about renewable energy policy, but the site is no longer maintained.
Living in a remote area has both its advantages and drawbacks. Nowadays we're are a lot less isolated than let's say twenty years ago, because communication has taken giant steps in that period of time. Now we can easily communicate with the outside world using a variety of media. Almost every home now uses cell phones, the internet, and we can watch television unrestricted by the programming that was only available from Elephant Mountain here in Silver Valley many years ago. Emergency services can now be contacted using a system significantly enhanced with modern technologies such as GPS positioning for not only quicker agency response to emergencies, but the ability for those agencies to get to a location that was difficult or impossible to find in the old days.
But some of our residents, here in Newberry Springs, can't afford some of the more exotic mediums of communication, cell phones, or internet, and are forced to rely on older land lines, which seem to be deteriorating at an alarming rate.
True, there are tax-payer subsidized programs available that make cell phones for emergency use available to those who cannot afford them, but there is little reason not to expect better service from a utility, to which our monthly remittances for service continue to get larger, while the availability of that service continues to deteriorate.
Residents have called this writer asking that something be done about the problem, so I've been looking around for ways to get the phone company's attention so to speak. There are of course political channels that are generally only as effective as the politician's desire to serve contituents. Those contacts can be found on the Links page here on the site. The County Supervisor could be more responsive than others beyond our local area.
Possible Contacts to Resolve the Problem
Frontier's web site has an email contact link, https://frontier.com/contact-us#/residential.
The California Public Utilities Commission can be contacted at https://appsssl.cpuc.ca.gov/cpucapplication/, but usually the first thing they ask is whether or not you have personally contacted the utility (Verizon in this case).
Senator Jean Fuller's field rep frequently visits the Barstow Area Chamber. It might be a good idea to drop in with your concerns. Access her mobile office hours here.
Needless to say, water is perhaps the most important element in a decision to make your home, or start a farm or business in the desert. As the venerable Mark Twain put it, "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."
There are many opinions on how the water supply should be handled here. Homeowners have one opinion, farmers another, and various businesses yet other opinions. But all of us seem to agree on one point; that few of us will survive out here without a reasonable supply of water, and that prudent water management is the key to making a reasonable supply available for the current and future residents of our desert. Issues affecting our water supply are subjects of continuous and occasionally hostile debate.
The Mojave Water Agency, elected officials charged with managing water supplies and ensuring effective water delivery, are essentially our intermediaries with various other government agencies and the courts when it comes to water issues. Some of the water adjudications in Mojave County have adversely affected businesses and farming located here, and there are ongoing appeals by affected parties in protest against what are viewed as arbitrary court judgements that have effectively limited local water rights. There are also fears by residents, currently unaffected by adjudication, that limitations on water rights, and metering requirements, will also be extended to "minimal producers" or small property owners who don't ordinarily use large quantities of water, and can little afford the heavy, expensive burden of not only having to both pump their own water, but to pay on a per gallon basis, for the water that they do pump.
The Baja Subarea Advisory Council are the agency-elected representatives that interface between the Baja Subarea, roughly composed of Fort Irwin, Yermo, Daggett, and Newberry Springs and the Mojave Water Agency. This council currently consists of five representatives from the Silver Valley area.
Baja Sub-Area meetings are held on an ad hoc basis. Meetings to be announced.