Our view: Water conversation long overdue (October 30, 2015)

Last week, Mojave Water Agency board president Bev Lowry penned an op-ed commentary in this newspaper calling for a community conversation about water, development and the drought.

In her piece, Lowry made several good observations and asked several good questions, among them: We face many challenges in a changing California water world that brings new regulations that continue to define roles and responsibilities. We must also make some serious choices: Do we want to grow? If so, how do we grow?

And who decides?

In a nutshell, Lowry summed up the challenges facing Mojave River Valley residents and their leaders.

While we are delighted Lowry and the Mojave Water Agency brought the need for this conversation to the forefront, we remain disappointed that the region’s elected officials hadn’t done so previously.

This drought, after all, is not new.

It did not just take us by surprise.

Long before Gov. Jerry Brown issued his water conservation mandate last spring, all Californians knew the state was in the midst of a serious drought, the Mojave River Valley included.

Yet as far as we can tell, the region’s leaders had not assembled to discuss the very things Lowry asks: Do we want to grow? If so, how much? And who decides?

Of course, it shouldn’t just be our leaders who make these important decisions. Every resident who cares should be able to have a say in them.

That means our leaders should be coming up with ways to ask these important questions to their constituents, whether through city or town correspondence, email, polls, public meetings or regional hearings.

While our cities and leaders do many things well, we can’t say planning for the future — collectively, as a region — is always one of them.

We hope Lowry and MWA’s call to action will change that.

Until this important conversation can be conducted, and answers to Lowry’s three key questions ascertained, we hope the leaders of the region’s cities and town will take it upon themselves to hold off on approving any large developments — business or residential.

The pool of life-sustaining water in the aquifers that serve this vast desert region isn’t getting any larger and there are limits to the already impressive conservation efforts residents can make.

Before we commit, as a region, to adding 100,000 or more new residents we must take the time to address the issues facing us and make decisions in the best interest of all of us.

Source: Daily Press