A Timeline of Groundwater Management in Indian Wells Valley: Agriculture, Development, SGMA
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.
1982 – The City of Ridgecrest annexes the community area of China Lake and on-base Naval housing is destroyed.
1992 – The Navy further expands as Navy installations in the Southwest are consolidated into the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station
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 recently published an updated public health goal of 1 part per billion for perchlorate in drinking water.
2010-2013 – A larger block of pistachios is developed in the Indian Wells Valley. An alfalfa ranch is retired as part of the development. State of the art irrigation systems are installed. The grower also purchased an abandoned alfalfa field that was causing a dust hazard and encouraged natural ground cover to alleviate the issue.
2012 – 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.
2014 – Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is passed by the legislature (authored by Dickinson and Pavley) and signed into law.
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.
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.
12/17 – A White Paper: Issues and Options for Groundwater Management in the IWV under the SGMA
2018 – original groundwater extraction fee approved
2/20/19 - NAWS Commander Captain Paul Dale sends letter to IWVGA
11/19/19 – Mojave files Physical Solution Complaint (Verified Complaint for Quiet Title)
1/16/20 – IWVGA approves groundwater sustainability plan
4/16/20 – Mojave is removed from IWVGA PAC and TAC
5/29/20 – Mojave’s letter to IWVGA re: Groundwater Extraction Reporting for Pumping Verification
6/03/20 – Mojave’s Comment Letter to DWR re: Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin
6/16/20 – IWVWD’s reply to Mojave’s Complaint in support of Demurrer
6/17/20 – Ruling overruling IWVWD’s Demurrer to Mojave’s Verified Complaint
7/16/20 – IWVWD unanimously approves groundwater extraction fee increase
8/21/20 – Public hearing on proposed basin replenishment fee (different than groundwater extraction fee)
9/30/20 – Mojave Pistachios sues IWVGA requesting the invalidation of the groundwater sustainability plan and more than $255,000,000 in damages.