Water extraction fees will increase for Valley well owners

Bill Warner, Ojai Valley News reporter

The extraction fees are going up for water wells within the purview of the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency (OBGMA). Meeting in regular session April 27, the OBGMA Board of Directors was unanimous in setting the new rate at $25 per acre-foot, beginning July 1.

“It's still possible to have a fee for fixed costs to modify what we charge for extractions,” OBGMA Director Russ Baggerly said prior to casting his vote. “As long as we can cover what we need to cover the budget, we don't want to bleed the Valley dry.”

The vote marked the first time the charge was raised in nearly a decade. It followed in the wake of a $36,130 budget deficit for the OBGMA's 2015-16 fiscal year. The hope is that the new fees will modify a projected deficit of $50,310 in a temporary budget, approved Dec. 8, for the year ahead.

OBGMA President Jerry Conrow ascribed the shortfall to legal and consulting expenses incurred over the past two years by the organization's efforts for state recognition as an official groundwater sustainability agency.

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