A Timeline of Groundwater Management in Indian Wells Valley and
Our Fight For Water

1900's

Farmers raise stone fruits and apples in the Indian Wells Valley. Ranchers graze cattle and sheep. 

1908 - 1913

Construction completed on the Los Angeles Aqueduct    

1940's

Farmers, miners, and ranchers are removed from their land as part of the war effort to provide for the future home of Naval Ordnance Test Station. The military establishes a tie-in to the Los Angeles Aqueduct. 

1955

The Ridgecrest County Water District, the future Indian Wells Valley Water District, is formed. 

1963

The City of Ridgecrest is incorporated.   

1967

The Navy presence in the Indian Wells Valley expands as the Naval Weapons Center is formed. 

1970s

Alfalfa fields expand in the Indian Wells Valley. Pistachio fields are planted and thrive in the Indian Wells Valley. 

1980s

Pistachio orchards are further expanded in the Indian Wells Valley. 

1992

The Navy further expands as Navy installations in the Southwest are consolidated into the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS). 

2005

In a report to Congress, the US Department of Defense found 30,700 parts per billion of perchlorate in groundwater. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment published an updated public health goal of 1 part per billion for perchlorate in drinking water

2010-2013

Mojave Pistachios (Mojave) develops a larger block of pistachios in the Indian Wells Valley. An alfalfa ranch is retired as part of the development. State of the art irrigation systems are installed. Mojave also purchased an abandoned alfalfa field that was causing a dust hazard and encouraged natural ground cover to alleviate the issue.  

  

2014

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is passed by the legislature (authored by Dickinson and Pavley) and signed into law. 

2014–2015

Kern County rezones the Indian Wells Valley to exclude new agriculture. A freeze on all agriculture was attempted by Kern County but was voted down.  

2015

The groundwater under China Lake NAWS is de-designated by the State of California to remove the municipal and domestic supply beneficial use designation. 

 

2016

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) forms as a California joint powers authority and designates itself as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin.

 

2017

Groundwater sampling on China Lake Naval Weapons Station reveals PFAS levels of 8 million parts per trillion, the highest in California. The EPA established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion. 

 

  • 11/2017 - The IWVGA appoints Mojave representatives to two advisory committees of the IWVGA Board, the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

  • 12/2017 - A White Paper: Issues and Options for Groundwater Management in the IWV under the SGMA is published. 

 

2018

IWVGA approves original $30/acre-foot (AF) groundwater “Extraction Fee”. 

2019

  • 2/2019 - NAWS Commanding Officer Captain Paul Dale sends letter to IWVGA re: Groundwater Resources.

  • 6/17/19 – NAWS Commanding Officer Captain Paul Dale sends letter to IWVGA addressing Navy’s historic use.

  • 11/19/19   – Mojave files Physical Solution Complaint (Verified Complaint for Quiet Title). 

2020

  • 1/08/20  – Mojave’s Comment Letter on Public Review Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan

  • 1/16/20  – IWVGA approves Groundwater Sustainability Plan. 

  • ​4/16/20  – IWVGA removes Mojave from the IWVGA PAC and TAC.

  • ​6/03/20  – Mojave’s Comment Letter to California Department of Water Resources (DWR) re: Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin

  • 6/16/20 – Indian Wells Valley Water District files Cross-Complaint, expanding the case filed by Mojave on 11/19/19 into a comprehensive basin adjudication. 

  • 6/18/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Reporting Policy for New Groundwater Extraction Wells, Groundwater Extraction Fee, Sustainable Yield Report, Replenishment Fee Report, and Transient Pool and Fallowing Pool Report

  • 7/15/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Adoption of the Increased Groundwater Extraction Fee and the Sustainable Yield Determination

  • 7/16/20  – IWVGA unanimously approves increase in groundwater Extraction Fee to $105/AF. 

  • ​7/16/20 – Navy representative, Commander Peter Benson, clarifies in comments before IWVGA that the Navy did not “direct, ask or imply” that the IWVGA should transfer the Navy’s estimated Federal reserve water right to non-federal water users.

  • 8/6/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Request to Correct Procedural Deficiencies in Replenishment Fee Notice & Protest Procedure 

  • 8/19/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letters to IWVGA re: Comments in Opposition to the Proposed Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin Replenishment Fee and re: Board Consideration and Adoption of Pumping Verification Reports and Public Hearing and Board Consideration and Adoption of Resolution 05-20 Regarding a Transient Pool and Fallowing Program and Adoption of Related CEQA Findings

  • 8/19/20 -- Mojave's Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Comments in Opposition to the Proposed Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin Replenishment Fee

  • 8/21/20  – Public hearing on proposed $2,130/AF basin “Replenishment Fee”.

  • ​9/30/20  – Mojave Pistachios sues IWVGA requesting the invalidation of the groundwater sustainability plan and associated actions and more than $255,000,000 in damages.

  • 10/15/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Meter Compliance Update and Staff Recommendation on Changes to the Policy, Resolution 07-20 re Reporting Policy for all New Groundwater Extraction Wells, Optimized Use of Recycled Water, Fallowing Valuation and Potential for Transfer Market in the Transient Pool, and Monthly Financial Report

  • 11/19/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Meter Compliance Update and Staff Recommendation on Changes to the Policy and Amendment of Ordinance 01-20 with First Read of Ordinance 04-20; Consideration of Amending Ordinance No. 02-18 re Extraction Fees; Consideration and Approval of Option Agreement for the Purchase of Recycled Water from City of Ridgecrest; Consideration and Approval of Resolution 08-20 Establishing a Recycled Water Program; Consideration and Discussion of a Potential Fallowing Valuation and Potential Transfer Market in the Transient Pool; and Expenditure Approval and Monthly Financial Report 

  • 12/16/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Closed Session Capitol Core Presentation on State Water Project Importation Purchase Options; Board Review and Approval of 2021 IWVGA Budget; Board Consideration and Possible Approval of Variance Requests; and Public Hearing and Board Consideration to Adopt Ordinance 05-20 Amending Ordinance No. 02-18 “Establishing Groundwater Extraction Fees and the Rules, Regulations and Procedures for their Imposition” 

2021

  • 1/1/21 – $2,130/AF Replenishment Fee becomes effective.

  • 1/13/21 – Mojave amends its 9/30/20 complaint against the IWVGA, adding new causes of actions challenging subsequent IWVGA decisions. 

  • 1/15/21 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to IWVGA re: Request to Defer Replenishment Fee, Transient Pool and Fallowing Program and Related GSP Programs 

  • 8/25/21 – Mojave files second amendment to its 9/30/20 complaint against the IWVGA.

 

2022