Consultant Daniel Cozad speaks at the AVMAC meeting. Photo by Marshall Smith
For many years, residents of the Anza valley have struggled with the question of water adequacy and ownership. Residents of the largely undeveloped valley acknowledge that further development and population growth are predicated on knowing how much water is available. The 2005 Anza Valley Vision and Goals Statement developed by the community in a yearlong series of workshops recognizes that a comprehensive water study must happen before planning and development can occur.

At a Wednesday, Oct. 12 workshop meeting of the Anza Municipal Advisory Council (AVMAC), the second in a series that hopes to revitalize planning for a water study, consultant Daniel Cozad of Integrated Planning and Management stated, “I’ve never been to a community where water [and a water study] is the first priority.” In May 2007, that priority came to an abrupt halt when developer Bob Dyson withdrew an $800,000 funding commitment toward a projected $1.3 million price tag for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a comprehensive water study.

After that loss, locals spearheaded an effort to obtain a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Water Resources Local Groundwater Assistance program to help the community develop the capacity to plan and manage its groundwater resources. The grant is to understand the preparatory that must be taken before any diagnostic, measurement or development steps can be undertaken.

For Anza citizens, the key steps include deciding what kind of governmental entity they want to have in place to receive further grants or donations. Cozad noted in a subsequent telephone interview that a “brother or sister 501(c)(3) might serve initially until a more permanent water-specific community organization can be formed.

Additionally, the project is designed to reach into the community and bring in the maximum number of stakeholders to both understand and document issues for groundwater planning; assist the community in scoping and developing groundwater management planning; coordinate closely with Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) for purposes of funding for groundwater management; and to help the community understand options for how to organize to best manage groundwater.

One of the attendees strongly objected to what she viewed as the sparse community representation at the meeting, saying that decisions could not be made without more of the community present. AVMAC board member Gordon Lanik replied that those who show up make the decisions and the attendance in any case was strong in comparison with other AVMAC meetings.

Cozad made it clear at the beginning of the workshop that this was neither the forum nor the time to discuss the contentious issues of water ownership currently being adjudicated by federal courts to determine quantification of tribal primary water rights.

Cozad noted that once water quantities and availability are determined, both tribes and community would likely fashion a democratic settlement of how that water is apportioned. “They all have wells and know about water levels,” said Cozad. He added that they are consequently savvier about water issues.

Cozad divided the roughly 40 attendees into two groups. He asked each to write down concerns, questions, and specifically what kind of organization should be put together to pursue obtaining additional grants to further the water study.

The final of the three workshops will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Anza Community Hall.

A final report summarizing the community deliberations and decisions is due Nov. 1. The ultimate goal, which will require future grants, is to create a groundwater management plan for the valley utilizing groundwater monitoring that will assure the region has a sustainable water future for all water users.