March 5, 2013
Tim Dewar, email@example.com
Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency board member Jerry Conrow pulled from its agenda Thursday night an item that called for considering hiring an attorney to help prepare for the possible adjudication of water rights within the Ojai Basin. He said the item was pulled at the request of the Ojai Water Conservation District, the organization he represents on the OBGMA.
Adjudication of water rights is the process typically used to determine who is entitled to take water from a specific area (in this case, the Ojai Basin) particularly during times of water shortages. All well owners drawing water from the Basin would be required to show their historical water use in order to retain water rights if adjudication were ordered.
OBGMA board member Russ Baggerly, who represents Casitas Municipal Water District, said the very reason the group was formed was so water-related issues could be determined locally, rather than through the courts where adjudication would be decided.
Betsy Clapp, who represents the city of Ojai on the OBGMA board said she hopes the discussion about adjudication will encourage those well owners who have not yet done so, to register their wells with the OBGMA. “If you don’t do that, you can’t prove historic use.”
Adjudication has become an issue in the buyout of Golden State Water Company’s (GSWC) Ojai service area with that company’s assertion that any buyout amount would have to include payment for its water rights, despite the fact that the Basin has not been adjudicated to establish those rights.
GSWC officials continue to insist that their Ojai service area is not for sale.
The CMWD board of directors will hold a public hearing March 13 at 6 p.m. at Matilija Junior High School’s auditorium regarding the buyout. At that meeting, the CMWD board could vote to move forward with a bond election to finance the buyout.
Registered voters within the proposed communities facilities district would be asked to vote on whether to levy up to $60 million over 30 years on residential and commercial properties to pay for the cost of purchasing GSWC’s assets and to fund future repairs to the system that provides water to 2,900 accounts, mostly within the city limits.
The bond vote, which would likely be held sometime in July, would need affirmative votes by more than two-thirds of those voting to pass.