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Water Commission needs members

September 21, 2010

Inyo County is looking for volunteers to serve on the Water Commission and monitor water issues in the Owens Valley, such as use of LADWP wells (above) and water allotments on leases. File photo

County leaders are hoping to direct attention to a need for community service in Inyo County as there have been no volunteers to sit on the county Water Commission.
The Water Commission has not had a quorum since the beginning of the year, meaning that it has been unable to meet in its capacity as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors and the Water Department.
The board decided Tuesday to re-advertise for the three vacant positions rather than disband the group and hand its duties over to the Natural Resources Advisory Commission.
The Water Commission met June 30 to discuss the role and future of the group and hear input from community members on what they think should be done about the commission’s lack of volunteers.
At that meeting, seven residents spoke to the commissioners, saying they would like to see the county try harder to recruit for the commission.
After that meeting, the Water Commission recommended that the board keep the advisory group and find ways to fill the vacancies.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Independence resident Nancy Masters said the Water Commission is an important part of Inyo’s government because of long-standing water issues in the Owens Valley.
Masters said she not only wanted to see the vacancies on the commission filled, but would also like to see the Water Commission take a more active role in area water issues.
“Eliminating the Water Commission would create greater work loads for the Planning Department, Water Department and Natural Resources Advisory Commission,” Masters said. “There is no end to water management issues in Inyo County.”
Paul Lamos, a member of the commission, said that the three remaining members of the five-member group would like to see the vacancies filled.
“It’s obvious to me and this board that nobody wants to dissolve the Water Commission,” Fifth District Supervisor and Board Chair Richard Cervantes said. “We need to consider other sources of advertising so we can get those positions filled.”
Fourth District Supervisor Marty Fortney said he is all in favor of keeping the Water Commission, but “I’m totally at a loss here because I cannot get anyone interested in serving. Nobody is interested in serving, but they’re all interested in keeping this commission.”
Cervantes said the county has always had a hard time getting residents to serve on the commission.
Second District Supervisor Susan Cash asked that the county advertise “vigorously” for the vacant positions on the commission through press releases to the media and in the public notices section of the newspaper.
Members of the Water Commission are considered volunteers, although they are paid $75 per meeting. All travel expenses incurred in the line of duty are also covered by the county.
Clerk of the Board Pat Gunsolley said the county typically advertises for commission vacancies for three weeks, but the Board of Supervisors can choose to extend that if more time is needed.
If there are not enough volunteers to serve on the commission by the end of the advertising cycle, the county will revisit the issue.
Those who are interested in serving can call Board of Supervisors Clerk Pat Gunsolley at (760) 878-0373.

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