City, Golden Hills respond to Grand Jury report on Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District
August 5, 2023
On June 1, The Kern County Grand Jury published a report on the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District regarding their State Water Project allocation practices.
Water in municipal and industrial areas, which are governed by the City of Tehachapi and Golden Hills, comes from a combination of groundwater and State Water Project (SWP) contracts with TCCWD. Allocation of SWP from the state is volatile year-to-year depending on drought conditions, however concerns have been raised as to how TCCWD is distributing allocated SWP.
Despite the City and Golden Hills accounting for over 30% of TCCWD’s tax revenue in 2022, they have received and continue to receive only a small portion of the SWP requested. The now three-year delinquent 2020 Regional Urban Water Management Plan suggests a 4% allocation of SWP to the City and Golden Hills, and 66% to agriculture. Agriculture accounted for only 1% of TCCWD’s tax revenue in 2022.
The City and Golden Hills believe TCCWD’s water allocation to be, “a disturbing process lacking transparency and geared toward ensuring that one sector… will receive the lion’s share…” The two entities have reported in their joint official response to the Kern grand jury report that some of TCCWD’s board members are using their position to advance personal land use agendas.
In 2021, TCCWD formed an ad hoc committee to help allocate SWP in times of drought, however the committee is made up entirely of TCCWD board members and staff with no representatives from the City or Golden Hills. Ad hoc committees are also not subject to The Brown Act and are able to operate largely behind closed sessions.
The Kern grand jury concluded that making the ad hoc committee permanent is an appropriate course of action, which would then subject it to The Brown Act. This formalization would allow City and Golden Hills residents and officials to directly participate in a fully transparent process of SWP allotment, ensuring that the people of Tehachapi and Golden Hills are getting the water allotment they pay for.
You can read the Kern County Grand Jury report on TCCWD here: http://www.kerncounty.com/government/other-agencies/grand-jury.