Water exporters win OK from county - Hi-Desert Star: News

Water exporters win OK from county

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 11:47 pm

SAN BERNARDINO — County supervisors approved a plan Monday, Oct. 1, to monitor water removal from an aquifer east of Twentynine Palms for export to Orange County.

The Cadiz Valley water project’s groundwater monitoring plan passed on a 4-1 vote with Neil Derry, the Morongo Basin’s representative on the board, in opposition.

About 10 Basin residents were at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting, including Seth Shteir, a spokesperson for the National Parks Conservation Association.

“We’re really concerned about the springs in the Mojave Preserve,” Shteir said from his Joshua Tree office Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 2.

An environmental impact report predicts the removal of 50,000 acre feet of water a year will have no significant impacts, a finding Shteir said doesn’t seem sensible.

The project isn’t signed and sealed yet. Santa Margarita Water and Cadiz Inc., the project’s backers, must win approval from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to transport water in the Colorado River aqueduct.

The Municipal Water District of Orange County also must OK the plan.

The Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society are suing in San Bernardino County court to challenge the project.

Another lawsuit has been filed by a brine-mining company that alleges its work will be compromised.

Group asks for independent analysis

“It’s unfortunate so much water is going out of the county to provide for unsustainable growth and for exotic landscaping and swimming pools,” Shteir added.

Santa Margarita Water District is the lead agency on the Cadiz project. Shteir said 70 percent of Santa Margarita’s water irrigates parks, golf courses and landscaping.

“Their rate payers pay a lower cost for their water than our rate payers,” Shteir pointed out, “creating a disincentive to conserve. Instead of robust conservation measures, they have looked to San Bernardino County to provide water for unsustainable growth.”

Shteir cautioned that groundwater management is extremely complex and said the National Parks Conservation Association would prefer to see an independent agency like the U.S. Geological Survey establishing criteria for monitoring the Cadiz project, as opposed to San Bernardino County and the project proponent.

They didn’t get everything they wanted

“My constituents have made it clear what their position is; I represent them,” Derry said of his dissenting vote.

Derry said significant concerns about the project need to be addressed.

The supervisor pointed out San Bernardino County maintains the right to shut down the project at any time if its monitoring detects environmental damage.

“They did not get everything they wanted,” Derry said.

During his comments at Monday’s meeting, Derry thanked his staff and Cadiz for working so diligently together, although he stated he disagrees with the outcome.

“There’s one thing to remember in the desert,” Derry cautioned. “Water is a vital resource that needs to be protected for all users.”

Cadiz: We look forward to working together

Scott Slater, Cadiz president and general counsel, stated in a news release Tuesday, “As a member of the desert community for over 25 years, Cadiz has taken great care to ensure that the project will protect critical resources of the desert by committing to comprehensive, long-term monitoring enforced by San Bernardino County.”

Slater went on to thank the supervisors for their favorable review of the project and said he looks forward to working together.

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  • Mike posted at 7:21 pm on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Mike Posts: 697

    That Ramos was noncommittal on Cadiz is no surprise. He probably didn’t even know about it. I’m serious!

    I attended the candidate forum in Lucerne and was completely taken aback. Ramos didn’t know what our issues are, much less what he would do about them.

    And get this… before the show even got started, the MC was handing out little 3×5 manila cards. He said Mr. Ramos had requested the audience not engage the candidates directly from the floor. Instead we were to write out our question and submit them beforehand. It was soon obvious why! Ramos is clueless and didn’t want to be put on the spot, that’s why!

    Ramos has had every opportunity to become knowledgeable, at least about the important stuff… but he hasn’t done so.

    And if he’s not interested enough in our issues to even learn what they are then why in the world is he running? Does he want to be a Supervisor because of a personal agenda? Is that why he hasn’t bothered to find out what is going on in our rural communities?

    Or maybe, learning about the issues facing our district is just too big of a job for him!

  • Mike posted at 5:21 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    Mike Posts: 697

    Desertlily, Derry fired that Rep. as soon as he learned about him!

    Everybody, here is something to think about…

    Whether it was valid or not, there is no question that the charge against Derry was a result of Postmus and pals intentionally mudding the waters by implicating Derry for allowing Postmus to hold a $5,000 donation for him. Postmus and his pill popping entourage were going down and there was plenty of finger pointing in that futile effort to cover their drug addicted butts.

    I personally think the circumstances associated with the charge indicate that Derry was guilty of nothing more than a mistake any of us have might have made. But even if you think him guilty of a crime, consider that the Attorney General (democrat Jerry Brown) would have been more than happy to prosecute a republican for “laundering a campaign donation” if he thought he could! Truly the Attorney General felt the facts of the case were unlikely to support a criminal conviction or he would have pursued that course of action rather than offering the Supervisor a plea bargain.

    You can ask and should, why then would Derry accept a plea if he wasn’t guilty? Besides, even if he was guilty, we know ones day in court is a crapshoot at best so he still would have a good chance to prevail, and if not, the appeals process could delay the administration of sentencing for years. So why should he cop to a misdemeanor instead of fighting it… in either case?

    Well, let’s remember that as long as those charges were pending Derry’s voting ability was restricted by law and that situation was handicapping our county’s entire supervisory process. Imagine the difficult decision he had to make. The long battle necessary to clear himself would continue to impede his ability to properly serve San Bernardino County because the restrictions would continue as long as the case was open, but accepting the deal would leave many of his constituents to speculate about his integrity!

    The trial would have taken years and even a favorable outcome would not restore his reputation. It was in the toilet from the moment he was accused and only hard work and time will fix that. But here is what is most important to all of us. Continuing the restrictions would have left the legitimacy of many important Board decisions in question. It was an unacceptable situation that has been corrected only by Derry accepting the offer.

    And yes, I think Derry was wrongly charged and would have eventually been exonerated. You may disagree but the fact remains, he did was what was needed to restore this district’s full contribution to the course our county charts.

    Now think about this…

    Accusations seem to be the “order of the day” with Ms. Lily and friend but here is some VERIFIABLE food for thought…

    Derry actually, PERSONALLY AND REGULARLY, attends our MAC meetings and other important functions.

    He has helped our club on several clean ups.
    He attends the meetings and supports the efforts of many of the Basin’s non-profits and often provides some pretty good entertainment at fundraisers.

    He balanced the budget without raising taxes three years in a row.
    He cut back on the perks elected officials get.
    He cut his own pay by 25%.
    He authored the sunshine ordinance.

    He is fighting recent regulation that denies building permits for homes that must use hauled water and he is fighting the unrealistic and unnecessary changes the state is proposing for septic system regulations that will adversely affect folks in the unincorporated desert areas.

    He exposed the now infamous “San Bernardino International Airport Scam”.
    He restored property rights by abolishing the OHV permitting nonsense.
    He took an active roll and was no small part of stopping “Green Path North”.
    He has taken the lead in the effort to stop the “Illegal Fire Tax”.

    He secured the funding for the well at the Johnson Valley Improvement Association. Derry is a regular at all the Homestead Valley events, Johnson Valley, Landers, Yucca Mesa and Flamingo heights. He has been helpful in the reassement of Yucca Mesa's road maintainence CSD. And I think the Joshua Tree MAC could fill out an equally appreciative report respecting their community as could 3rd district communities beyond the Morongo Basin.

    And he has now come out against the sale of Cadiz water which I don’t think is, at all, a popular position despite what Ms. Lilly may have concluded from the incessant squawking of the Basin’s vocal minority.

  • Dave Peach posted at 11:05 am on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    Dave Peach Posts: 2998

    James Ramos hasn't (or hadn't) committed one way or the other on the issue, which will remain beyond his authority and will be settled by the courts, rather than by public outcries or local outlaws.

    Various local "environmentalists", who have proven themselves to be concerned only with themselves and their immediate environment, regard Neil Derry as a savior rather than a villain, which demonstrates that they are equally unreliable.

    Derry's political and criminal record warrants complete consideration and certain rejection.

    Buying votes with taxpayer dollars, while shorting our community of a fair share proves that Derry cannot be trusted to "Defend Joshua Tree" or anything else. Sacrificing federal funding in order to save his government paycheck cost everyone in the district dearly. Supposing that food stamps causes childhood obesity, when it actually reduces learning deficiencies, shows that Derry suffers from similar inadequacies. Concluding that Hispanic workers must be undocumented immigrants demonstrates Derry's racist inclinations nearly as well as his nationally notorious communications director, who could be easily replaced with the ability to communicate intelligently and properly.

    But all of Derry's failings will soon matter no more than Derry, except to his probation officer and perhaps the grand jury.

    About all that remains to be said about Derry is "Good riddance!"

  • desert lily posted at 5:11 am on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    desert lily Posts: 233

    Thanks, Jimmy for a fine piece of reporting. The one thing I would have been interested in seeing in this story is how the other candidates for BOS would have voted on this issue.

    I remember that Neil Derry hired a felon as his right hand man. This does not convince me that Neil Derry is anything but a crook. He was free to vote no, to pander to the voters. The vote passed anyway. It cost him nothing to vote no. I'd like to see him vote no when it is hard sometime.


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