Thursday, August 4, 2011

Borrego Springs Groundwater Management Revisited

This past May I did a post on the Borrego Springs, CA groundwater management situation.  Quite frankly, I was a bit acerbic about the web page I had run across on this groundwater basin - making the point that the situation was not as bad as it seemed to the web page authors because they had, inadvertantly or otherwise, left out some pretty important groundwater facts.
I also just read a report by Rebecca Nelson titled "Uncommon Innovation: Developments in Groundwater Management Planning in California".  This report looked at groundwater management plans that exist in the state and extracted the best, or most promising management approaches from 50 plans that were looked at in some detail.  Incidentally, according to Nelson there are 20-some distinct types of groundwater entities in CA that are authorized to do groundwater management plans, and an estimated 2,300 individual boards, districts, etc. that are engaged. Since they are all local, independent, and lack state oversight, knowing who is doing what and obtaining specific groundwater management plans in the state is difficult at best.

Anyway, in her report Nelson picks several groundwater management approaches from the Borrego Water District's management plan (adopted in 2002) that she cites as innovative and worthy of replication elsewhere.  And they sound really good on paper.  This made me revisit my earlier Borrego Water District post only to discover that I missed the point altogether of the website I visited.  The point of that visited website was that the 2002 Borrego Water District Management Plan, while being adopted by the District governing board, has never been implemented.  This makes their website a bit more meaningful, and Nelson's report a bit more revealing.

I certainly don't profess to know if their management plan has been implemented or not, but if it hasn't, then what's the use?  Nelson does summarize her report with a statement that more research is needed in CA on local groundwater management plans - with questions asked, including:  "Do you actively use your groundwater management plan?" and "Which elements of your plan have been implemented?"  Seems to indicate that groundwater planning for the sake of planning in CA may be a more prevalent practice than most Californian's realize.

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