There is a concern that a lack of water in the Indian Wells Valley could be detrimental to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
Water is important to everyone in the valley — for drinking and agriculture — but it’s also vital for the mission of the NAWS China Lake.
The China Lake Alliance addressed the Indian Wells Valley Cooperative Groundwater Management Group to share its concerns of the future of groundwater in the valley on Thursday.
The alliance stressed the importance of water to the mission at NAWS.
Jack Connell, Chairman of the Alliance, said that water is important not only to well owners and businesses, but for the economy of the entire area, which includes China Lake.
He explained there are many projects on base that require water to go along with the basic necessities of the people that work there.
Connell explained that a lack of water, coupled with other possible budget cutting devices, could be disastrous for the base.
The “Perfect Storm” scenario would include adjudication with a Defense Base Closure and Realignment, or BRAC. The government conducted BRACs in 1995 and 2005 as federal downsizing measures.
Connell explained that the China Lake facility has been rated as a premiere military installation during the BRAC evaluations in the past. However, that status could be lost with a loss of water.
Connell explained that in the case of adjudication, a judge from outside the area would determine how much water each stakeholder could use. Connell gave the example that if the groundwater was found to be 40 percent of average, the judge could order all water users limited to 40 percent less consumption.
If this adjudication occurred with a BRAC situation, or a BRAC situation by any other name, Connell said, it could spell disaster for the base.
Connell said that the decision makers in Washington, D.C. would not to invest money into an installation that has to operate at 40 percent less capacity.
He said that there is great interest in water with the anticipated Resource Opportunity Plan to be published in October. It is a Kern County Planning project that involves a third-party consulting group, which will gather data and information from previous water studies. The plan is touted as being the first comprehensive collection of water studies in the IWV. The plan consists of extensive public input. It offers information on water and solutions to problems.
The preliminary findings from the consultants, are “not an attractive picture,” Connell said.
He said what he and the Alliance want to see is a group to step up and take action. He said it didn't matter what group or who it necessarily is, but a body with “authority and the resources” that can actually make change.
Page 2 of 2 - He told the group there has been plenty of talk over the years about water in the IWV, but what is needed now is action.