My Cardboard Box

In the West, it’s all about Water Rights

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Hi-Desert Water District is negotiating to buy the Blue Sky Country Club property — or the note of debt from the bank. The water district directors this week authorized General Manager Ed Muzik to continue negotiating with Nara Bank in Los Angeles to acquire the deed to all four parcels of the former country club. One parcel is a five-acre property with a well for water rights of 585 acre-feet a year, which the water district could tap.

Hi-Desert Water District (HDWD) is saying this will save them $250K per year in water acquisition.

There’s no question that water rights are a big deal and critical to this area. What is bothersome is the ambivalence HDWD is showing regarding the land itself, saying it could be used by the town “as a park” or that ‘perhaps an investor could develop the course’. Making the properties a park takes the properties off
the tax rolls (and their maintenance out of the hands of HDWD). Any investor thinking about rebuilding the course is going to take a long and hard look. I don’t think they’ll like what they see. The only advantage is that it’s already zoned for a golf course and the land is clear. The acreage there is barely enough for a course; HDWD will most likely fence off or make unavailable any property with water rights. Factor in the long-term plan to reroute the westbound portion of CA Route 62, and the property becomes even smaller.

And this also comes at a time when HDWD is over $1 million in the hole and is trying to also comply with state requirements and install a sewage system (which also means increased rates for its customers).

Water rights are important long-term for Yucca Valley. HDWD’s idea of stewardship is another matter.

Update (3/28/11): It appears that things have gotten more complicated for the High Desert Water District. According to local radio KCDZ:

According to a court ruling, any water extracted from sites on Blue Skies County Club would have to be used exclusively on the property. Hi-Desert Water General Manager Ed Muzik said they have no restrictions on pumping water, yet would be limited to pumping water from Blue Skies wells for use at any other place but Blue Skies. If the Water District were to buy the golf course and water rights, that could render the land useless as a golf course at best. Or the District could re-open the adjudication, which could be a costly legal maneuver.

Which means that the HDWD has to either take take the restriction to court (meaning serious money for legal fees) or use the water anywhere but on the property; the profitable use of which apparently was never given much open thought by the District. I say “open thought” because I think the restriction was known way in advance by HDWD. Which is why there were the “park” and now rendered-moot “golf course” public statements. However, selling it for housing development if and when the market improves…..?

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Written by PappyBro

March 6, 2011 at 19:23

Posted in Golf, Politix, The Mojave

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