The Western Growers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation voiced its concerns regarding the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s draft groundwater sustainability plan in a letter addressed to the IWVGA and its chair, Mick Gleason. 

“It is shocking that the IWVGA Plan reserves 100 percent of the basin’s sustainable yield to the U.S. Navy — an entity expressly not subject to SGMA or the Plan — and denies overlying landowner farmers any groundwater allocation at all unless they pay the Authority $2,130 per acre-foot,” the letter reads.

“This egregious Plan contradicts the express provisions of SGMA and will decimate agriculture in your basin area.”

This letter follows two lawsuits recently filed against the IWVGA, one by Mojave Pistachios, LLC, and Paul and Mary Nugent, as well as one by Searles Valley Minerals.

Both the Western Growers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation were active stakeholders in the development of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, the letter states. SGMA required the formation of a local agency, tasked to create a GSP; both organizations are calling for the IWVGA to revise the current GSP.

“A legitimate and objective consideration of the interests of overlying agricultural landowners would inescapably conclude that pricing their groundwater at $2,130 per acre-foot is functionally equivalent to forcing them out of business and, for those engaged in the cultivation of permanent crops, amounts to a taking,” the letter reads.

The California Farm Bureau Federation is a non-government, nonprofit, volunteer membership corporation, and the Western Growers represent local and regional family farmers who grow produce throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico.