Supervisors have unanimously agreed to rezone 22,000 acres of undeveloped farmland in the Indian Wells Valley to slow the growth of new farms – which they believe will relieve strain on the area’s water table, which is dropping an average of six inches annually.
The vote was cast after about four hours of public comment and discussion Tuesday night. Supervisor Mick Gleason said, with up to 90 percent of wells in the region showing declines, the county had to intervene.
“We’ve got to act,” Gleason said. “We cannot sustain our course. We have to act, and something has to be done.”
The Navy also told supervisors that the mission at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station was being threatened by increased groundwater pumping for agricultural use.
“There is one major economic driver in the Indian Wells Valley,” supervisor Mike Maggard said, referring to the Naval station. “If it goes away, I don’t know – I shutter to think what happens to Ridgecrest.”
Landowners will have the option to appeal the change over the next three months.
– Anthony Pollreisz