More joint projects and planning? Yes

During the Aug. 15, Idyllwild Water District meeting, its consolidation committee reported to the full board. The committee has met once, July 16, and attended the Aug. 8, Pine Cove Water District board meeting.

At the committee’s meeting, several Pine Cove residents attended and expressed strong opposition to the concept of consolidating IWD and PCWD together.

Kate Sirkin reads her statement advocating for local water district to work collaboratively toward community goals to the Idyllwild Water District board last week.
Photo by
JP Crumrine

Further, on Aug. 8, the PCWD board passed a resolution expressing its opposition to any actions for this purpose.

At the IWD board meeting, Pine Cove resident Marge Muir encouraged the committee “to reach out and enlarge its focus. It’s a hot issue and a lot of people have no idea the size of each district. New people need to know.”

Trudy Levy, one of the founders of the San Jacinto Watershed Watchdogs group, which already has 18 members, urged the board to “change the name from consolidation.”

Director Peter Szabadi announced another meeting on Aug. 28, and said, “My purpose is to involve people from the other districts. It’s possible the Pine Cove board doesn’t represent the view of all its constituents. We’re not trying to create animosity, but to find solutions on the operational level.”

Director David Hunt sympathized with Szabadi. “It’s fabulous to have a watershed group. It’s a mistake to have our own committee. It looks as if we’re trying to take over those districts. The Watchdogs should get the communities together and come to the districts.”

Public comment

During the public comment period, two residents also addressed this issue.

Mick Lynch, who lives on lower Pine Crest, attended and spoke to the board.

“For me, when water is too toxic to drink, I have a water crisis,” he began. “But the broader situation is even more critical. We’re running seriously low on water. On this whole mountain, we’re experiencing a crisis, whether it is from drought, fire or fear of flooding.”

Lynch posed three questions to the board. First, he urged them to “… shift the dialogue to the need rather than an idea regarding the integration of the three districts.”

He also urged IWD to organize a community meeting, including Fern Valley and Pine Cove water districts, to approach this issue. Finally, he asked what Riverside County’s involvement might be on this subject.

Kate Sirkin spoke out, too. She began with the fundamental introduction of the Brown Act, stating, “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.”

She also urged the all three water districts to work closer together for greater unity. “We are asking our water districts to … come up with a plan to save our watershed … to ensure that far into the future we have an adequate supply of affordable, potable water.”