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Opinion Editorial: Carrying Ventura's Water

web Screen Shot 2022 02 17 at 5.29.23 PM

Laura Rearwin Ward,  publisher

What Ventura city wants most, in its thirsty attack on Ojai Valley water rights, is to fracture the parties to further splinter the resistance against it. The Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency (OBGMA) stands poised with evidence that could remove thousands of properties from the adjudication lawsuit. Everyone from the “Y” through Upper Ojai can be holding their breath that they may be excused from the lawsuit.

Enter Bruce Kuebler — vice president of the Upper Ventura River Groundwater Agency (UVRGA) and a director of the Ventura River Water District — attempting to upset that apple cart. 

At issue is one of the current disputes in the water adjudication lawsuit. If it turns out, as the OBGMA scientific report shows, that the pumping of water in the Ojai basin does not have a significant effect on the flow of water at Foster Park, then, surely, the East End and Upper Ojai cannot be found to have influence, either.

To ensure survival, these small agencies, including the tiny Ventura River Water District, would benefit from a sacrifice of thousands of Ojai Valley ratepayers. So, they continue their quiet support of the outrageous claims — and the over-pumping of the river — by the city of Ventura, Taylor Ranch and their cohorts to fuel their insatiable thirst.

On Feb. 10, all but one board member of the UVRGA sought to turn against a sister Ojai agency (OBGMA) because of their self-interest in the adjudication lawsuit. The UVRGA — with no time to update its website with current board members for more than a year — finds
plenty of time to cast aspersions, without facts, on OBGMA’s required state sustainability plan. 

Acting as though a proxy for Ventura’s Walnut Creek lawyers at Best Best & Krieger, Mr. Kuebler asked the UVRGA board to send a complaint to the Department of Water Resources, with the hope of throwing out the OBGMA’s submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plan and its science showing the Ojai basin production levels do not significantly affect the flow of the river at Foster Park. 

Will UVGRA collude with opposing lawyers to chase a contrived canard against a sister agency?

After the public-comment period had expired on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, Mr. Kuebler spoke as an individual at the Sept. 30 OBGMA meeting. His tardy assertions were not consistent with the hydrological evidence put forward by the experts in the sustainability plan and, to his dismay, were not considered in the final scientific document.

Now, in an attempt to win personal validation and subsidize his micro-water agency, Mr. Kuebler is asking the UVRGA to persuade the State Water Resources Control Board to discredit OBGMA’s submitted sustainability plan in an effort to keep all parties involved in a senseless lawsuit. The action can succeed with a simple majority when it is brought back at the UVRGA’s March 10 meeting. That could cause an extensive do-over, legal costs between agencies, and an ongoing legal quagmire for thousands of water users. 

“It doesn't seem fair,” opined Mr. Kuebler at the UVRGA Feb. 10 meeting, seeming to believe his personal, Johnny-come-lately opinion should be enough to discredit another agency. And, but for the veto vote by Pete Kaiser, also a director of Casitas Municipal Water District, this desperate and mean-spirited affront to the OBGMA would have gone through. On hand, lending support for the OBGMA scientific report, were CMWD Manager Mike Flood, CMWD board member Mary Bergen, and Ojai City Councilmember Bill Weirick, who also sits on the OBGMA.

Mr. Kuebler, along with support from his general manager, Bert Rapp, has been promoting Ventura’s Physical Solution and has been vigorously supporting Ventura city’s position. At the Feb. 10 UVRGA meeting, Mr. Weirick said the OBGMA Groundwater Sustainability Plan was well-steeped in scientific method, and that, “point by point, he (Mr. Kuebler) was not following the evidence.”

Another possible unintended consequence would be harm to the county’s San Antonio Creek spreading grounds project that seeks to recharge the aquifer in the Ojai basin and provide more water, especially to agriculture.

The infighting between various agencies benefits only the interests of Ventura city and Taylor Ranch and company.

     

    Take action on or before March 10.

     Attend the online March 10 UVRGA meeting at:
https://uvrgroundwater.org/public-meetings/

Contact: 805-646-2114

• Diana Engle

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• Bruce Kuebler, vice chair

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• Pete Kaiser

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• Emily Ayala

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• Susan Rungren

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• Vivon Crawford

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• Glenn Shephard

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• Executive Director: Bryan Bondy:

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Editor's note: The editorial has been corrected to note that Mr. Kuebler made his public comments at the OBGMA meeting on Sept. 30 and that Mr. Kuebler asked the UVRGA board to send a complaint to the Department of Water Resources.

 

 

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