By Deb Murphy
The Starlite Community Service District is going for a boundary modification armed with evidence it draws water from an aquifer distinctly different from Owens Valley’s.
“We’ve built our case to 99-percent,” said Daniel Cutshall, president of the CSD. “So we’ve got a 50-50 chance” the modification request will be successful.
The district missed the first deadline but has a second chance with a June 30 deadline set by the Department of Water Resources. When the County started the process of forming the Groundwater Sustainability Agency, Starlite didn’t think they’d be impacted.
According to Cutshall, the state looked at alluvial fields to determine aquifer basins. But, he said, Starlite has a thin layer of alluvium and pulls its water supply from a much deeper aquifer. These aren’t just assumptions. The district has the scientific data.
A 2006 study describes the geology under the CSD’s wells: in lay terms, the top layer is a relatively “young” alluvial and glacial-type fan with a fractured granite rock bedrock underneath. It’s the lower layer that supplies water to the approximately 70 households. “Our water isn’t from recharge,” Cutshall said. “Our water’s over 2,000 years old” according to the reports.”
The district’s wells penetrate the bedrock to get to the water source fed through the fractures and faults. “Our water doesn’t go into the Owens Valley Basin,” Cutshall said. “You could pump the valley dry and we wouldn’t be impacted.”
Starlite’s geology is similar to Alabama Hills which has been excluded from the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, according to the document presented at the April 12th Owens Valley Groundwater Agency meeting.
The average use in the district is a half-acre-foot per household, far below the 2-acre-feet limit on individual well owners. Subdivisions of the larger lots are restricted by current fire protection regulations.
With no guarantee the DWR would agree to the modification, the Starlite CSD board agonized over the decision to request the boundary modification Cutshall said.
“We didn’t want to leave our friends and neighbors in the lurch,” he said. “We’ll help (the OVGA) in any way as long as we’re part of it.”