The Department of Water Resources (DWR) offers Facilitation Support Services (FSS) to help Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and local water management groups foster discussions among diverse water management interests and jurisdictions in support of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation. Through the FSS Program, the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) requested professional facilitation to support the basin in discussing challenges related to SGMA, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), and the multiple related lawsuits that have been filed, and to assist the community to understand and clarify the issues being faced in order to help discussions focus on constructive solutions moving forward. Stantec is a neutral third-party facilitator working on behalf of DWR in the Indian Wells Valley basin to gather input and guidance from local stakeholders to identify and clarify the challenges being faced related to local groundwater management.
As part of the FSS process, a Planning Committee was formed to support the development of a Work Plan that guides the Planning Committee’s efforts. The Planning Committee serves as an advisory group to support the Stantec facilitators in engaging basin stakeholders to explore issues and concerns related to groundwater management in the basin. Members of the Planning Committee serve at the pleasure of the IWVWD and were selected based on the member organization’s interests and recommendations. The following organizations make up a membership on the Planning Committee:
- United States Navy
- Indian Wells Valley Water District
- Searles Valley Minerals
- Mojave Pistachios
- Meadowbrook Dairy
Indian Wells Valley Planning Committee Work Plan
The Work Plan timeline consists of three key tasks:
- Process Initiation (April 2022 – May 2022)
- Committee formation and facilitation
- Stakeholder Assessment (May 2022 – July 2022)
- 20 one-on-one or small-group interviews
- Online survey
- Public Meetings (July 2022 – December 2022)
- Committee meetings, public workshops, and presentations
Task 1 of the Work Plan (Process Initiation) was completed on schedule. The Planning Committee was formed, and a Work Plan was created to help define committee goals and decision-making processes. A public meeting was held on May 17th to share the Work Plan and give updates on recent milestones in the FSS process. With the completion of Task 1, the Work Plan moved to Task 2 which consisted of a stakeholder assessment. The purpose of a stakeholder assessment is to evaluate the needs and conditions of a project as they relate to stakeholders and the community, identify any non-technical risks, and determine the best engagement techniques for the circumstances.
A stakeholder assessment gathers key information on the following questions concerning stakeholders:
- Who are they? (Community Member, Partner, Provider, Regulator)
- What do they care about?
- Who are their trusted messengers?
- What are the best ways (how) to connect with them?
- When should we talk to them / sensitivity?
- What do we need to know from them?
For this FSS Task Order, the stakeholder assessment consisted of two components: a series of individual and small group interviews (20 total interviews with 47 participants) and an online survey open to all members of the community. A link to the online survey was distributed through social media outlets and was made available on the IWVWD webpage. In total, the survey was open for an 11-day period and closed on August 19th, 2022. The survey provided an opportunity for members of the community to share feedback on the local groundwater management challenges being faced and provide input on the potential options the basin should consider moving forward.