Superior Court Judge Gloria Trask
Gives Tentative Adjudication Decision
On Continued Water Rampdown
The drought in the eastern San Bernardino county, along the Colorado River,
is categorized as Abnormally Dry. This area traditionally receives some wet monsoon
activity. Moving westward, away from those occasional rains, the drought turns to
Moderate, then Severe Drought; and finally, western San Bernardino county's Extreme Drought.
Posted: June 1, 2015
On May 29, 2015, the annual gathering of attorneys and other
parties interested in the Baja Subarea water adjudication, gathered at a Riverside County
superior courtroom before Judge Gloria Connor Trask. Having previously received the
recommendations of the Watermaster, and argument briefs from the parties in interest,
the judge presented her Tentative Ruling, as is normal, prior to hearing oral arguments.
Judge Trask is expected to present her rampdown decision later in June.
The Newberry Springs Recreational Lake Owners Association
had a large contingent of lake owners attending the hearing. Among the few minimal
producers who attended were Wayne and Linda Snively. The Blotter later
received a forwarded e-mail written by Linda Snively to a few of her friends describing
her impression of the hearing.
The Blotter has acquired permission from the Snively's
to publish the e-mail which comprises the informational subject of this blog.
Both Linda and Wayne Snively had hoped to present a short oral presentation at the hearing;
however, as minimal producers (those pumping under 10 acre feet per year) they are not
a legal part of the Adjudication (they are only IMPACTED); therefore the Snivelys were not
permitted to speak. The Blotter has acquired a copy of their proposed
presentations to the court and have attached them below.
Linda Snively's E-mail
Wayne and I were probably the only Minimum Producers.
People in attendance were majority of Lake People. Approximately 70 People Total.
Holly (USDA), Lance (MWA), Kirby (MWA), Valerie (MWA Watermasters), Robert Wagner
(MWA engineer Watermasters Consultant), Richard Hall (MWA Director), Jim Ventura
(MWA Director), Bill Brunick (MWA Attorney). Johnsons, DeJongs, Harders, Ed Hackbarth,
As guessed no one was allowed to give any comments.
The audio in the room was atrocious, we sat in the front row, and had to lean forward
to gleen what any of the attorneys were saying. Judge Trask was perfectly clear.
There were five attorneys, who stood the whole time.
Bill Brunick (MWA Attorney)
Mitisubshi Cement Plant Attorney
Lake Hired Attorney (who referred to the AG Attorney all throughout)
AG Pumpers Attorney (Named Harders, DeJong, and a couple of more)
US Fish and Wildlife Attorney Ms Levine (she forgot business cards,
but we talked to her and told her what a fantastic job she did.
To start off the hearing Judge Trask mentioned her Preliminary
Ruling. None of the attorneys had seen it, (published the day before a hearing).
The hearing was recessed while the clerk got a copy for all of the attorneys and when they
were through reading, it was resumed. Bill Brunick called Kirby Brill over to read
an item on either page two or three. We had no clue as to the Prelim Ruling.
Judge Track started out with strongly asking the attorneys
what would be the ramifications if 2.5% was the decision, as opposed to 5%.
(Note: where in the heck did 2.5% come up, since the WaterMaster recommendation was 5%,
and Bill Brunick was told by Judge Trask last year "Do not come to me with anything
less than 5% next year" (quoted by Brunick in a Water Master Meeting).
Judge Trask wanted to know who and why was the Lake Attorney
there? (Wouldn't she have that information ahead of time? Although there
were only four chairs for the attorneys to sit in, which went unused). The Lake
attorney wanted the lakes to be separated, but Judge Trask said she could not do that
because it might open it up for more law suits. The Lake attorney was not a strong,
dynamic person. He portrayed the Lake people as elderly, fixed income people with
limited resources. That was not the profile of the people in the audience.
Both he and the AG attorney wanted 2.5%.
Fish and Wildlife attorney was very cool, collected, highly
informed and pointed the history of how they had five years, and pumping was now more
than 2010. She mentioned two feet per year downdraft. She told us she had
listened to the WaterMaster Meeting Audio of March, 2015, and she instantly recognized
Judge Trask said several times to the AG attorney that this
situation is not new, and it has been before the court yearly.
The AG attorney said if 5% rampdown is the decision the farmers
will immediately go out of business. He said they need more time to come up with
alternatives, which they are working on right now. He several times went back to
talk to Joe Harter, who obviously runs it all. The attorney kept mentioning the
farmers had a problem planning any future because of lack of ability to pump, and an
inability to get bank financing. The AG Attorney also mentioned that they did
not agree with the findings of MWA WaterMaster Engineer, Robert Wagner, as to the
accuracy of the overpumping amounts. They did not have any counter study by
any authority, it was just negative, idle statement, with no legal background.
Mitishibi Attorney asked for 5%, MWA asked for 5%, US Fish
and Wildlife asked for 5%. Bill Brunick did mention 1,300 domestic wells were
in jeopardy of having to re-drill, and that MWA was working to help them.
He also mentioned Minimum Producers.
One major significant item was that the attorneys pointed out
that the AG pumpers used carry over water first, then use their yearly allotment, and
then carry over unused yearly allotment for next years water. We were not aware
how they manipulate their usage.
It had one 15 minute break, and the whole hearing was over by
We did not feel good about it, and might the Minimum Producers
have to have an attorney present to more strongly represent us. Or might any
legal representation then include us farther in this event ? Just something to consider.
Interesting, as we follow and participate through this journey,
we feel that we could have been at the attorney's table with stronger views to what the
Will attempt to find the Preliminary Ruling, as it appears to
be another piece of the puzzle.
Wayne is in town, so this is my interpretation.
• • •
Wayne Snively's proposed oral presentation to the court.
Linda Snively's proposed oral presentation to the court.
• • •