No ad hoc committee for private well owners

There was a lively debate at last week’s Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency board of directors meeting on whether to form an ad hoc committee for private well owners.

According to board chair Chris Perri, of the Scotts Valley Water District, since the two regular members and one alternate do not form a majority of the board they are allowed to meet informally without an agenda to discuss matters of interest.

The idea to form the ad-hoc committee was to allow the well owner representatives to engage, educate and inform their constituents and to provide a platform for facilitation. An ad hoc committee is not a permanent committee, rather it serves for a temporary purpose and when its purpose is accomplished it’s disbanded.

In this instance, if the ad hoc committee was created it would have disbanded after six months. Or if the well owners decided they liked the format of a committee there could be a request made to make it a formal committee.

“I believe it was on the agenda because the board wanted to give them the opportunity to use the more formal settings of an ad hoc, or standing committee, there by possibly adding additional credibility to their meetings,” said Perri.

According to board member and well owner representative Nick Vrolyk, the intended time frame of the ad hoc committee of six months was too short of time to try and generate interest. Vrolyk expressed interest in just continuing with having informal meetings with the private well owners.

“One of our roles is to look out for and support the private well owner,” said John Ricker, water resources division director for the County of Santa Cruz and board member. “The idea to form this committee was because we had a fear that these private well owners having discussions.”

The final decision, at the request of the private well owner members, was to ultimately not form an ad hoc committee.

“It was their wish to do this with as little formality as possible,” said Perri. “This will allow freewheeling discussion without the constraints of an agenda.”

According to Perri, the idea of a more formal setting for discussions made the well owners feel a “little uncomfortable.” But Perri stated “we just want them engaged and reaching out to the well owner community.”

Other announcements from the board meeting included the announcement of Chair Chris Perri, Vice Chair Chuck Baughman and Secretary Angela Franklin to continue in their roles for the next year. The board decided elections will occur for chair, vice chair and secretary each year around late January/ February.

Another matter of business included the approval to audio record the public meetings and legal counsel Terry Rein led a thorough presentation on the Brown Act and Public Records Act.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency is April 26. Meetings are held in the downstairs Santa Margarita Community Room at the Scotts Valley Water District, 2 Civic Center Dr., Scotts Valley. Meetings are open to the public. 

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