‘No agency can do “enough” in the area of conservation,’ — Jeff Bowman

DESERT HOT SPRINGS — Jeff Bowman, a retired spa owner from Desert Hot Springs is one of two qualified candidates vying for the Division 3 seat on the Desert Water Agency Board of Directors.

The other candidate is D.G. Cook, a planning commissioner from Desert Hot Springs,

Uken Report (UR) reached out to both candidates with a series of questions to help voters get to know them better.

Following are Bowman’s responses.

UR: Who or what motivated you to run for the DWA Board of Directors?

Jeff Bowman: I learned that for the first time in the history of DWA there will be two Directors on the board who live north of the I-10.  It was my background as a Director for MSWD for 9 years, my passion for our water and my 19 years of service in Desert Hot Springs that compelled me to run.

You might know that for years we who live north of the I-10 could run for the DWA board and over the years we’ve had a few that have tried.  However, because the voting population of Palm Springs is greater than that of us North of the I-10 we’ve never had the votes to seat anyone on the DWA board.

However, in 2019 DWA was sued by the Shenkman & Hughes law firm forcing them to comply with the California Voting Rights Act that ensures voter equality.  DWA then transitioned from at-large to division elections in November 2020.  Voters elected two board members at that time for divisions 4 and 5 located in Palm Springs. The next division election will be held this November and will have three seats up for election, Divisions 1, 2, and 3.  Division 1 includes Mission Lakes Country Club, the neighborhoods in Northern Palm Springs including the Upper Westside, Four Seasons, Desert Highland Gateway, North Palm Springs, Whitewater, and Snow Creek.  Division 2 is in the middle of Desert Hot Springs.  Division 3 covers North and East DHS and the unincorporated areas East of DHS.  You can see the Division map at: https://dwa.org/organization/election-by-division/

UR: If elected, what knowledge, experience and/or expertise would you bring to the role?

Jeff Bowman: My nine years on the MSWD board provides me with deep knowledge in the governance of water PLUS my 16 years as the owner of an award-winning hot mineral water hotel owner gives me the practical aspect of management PLUS my 19 years of living in Desert Hot Springs gives me a passion, knowledge and love for OUR community and water.

UR: What makes you a better fit than your opponent for the position?

Jeff Bowman: Once seated on the DWA board I can hit the ground running!  I understand the complex water issues having had nine years’ experience on the MSWD board.  I’ve been educated by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).  I abide by and follow “best board member practices” promoted by the California Special Districts Association (CSDA).  I am the current Board President of the Cabot’s Museum, former President of the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society, and served on the Desert Hot Springs Public Safety Commission for 11 years, I am a productive board member and leader.

UR: Is the DWA doing enough in the area of conservation? Why or why not? If not, what do you believe should be done?

Jeff Bowman: No agency can do “enough” in the area of conservation.  I believe we need to encourage and incentivize residents, businesses, and public facilities to use native desert plants and replace water hungry plants.  DWA has some good programs running but as I understand they are being hindered by a customer backlog.  I’d want to help the district discover ways of faster implementation of conservation programs.  We also have to get the word out to the HOAs and Hotels and help them inform their customers that water is our most precious resource.

UR: What is your No.1 priority if elected and how will you achieve it knowing you’re only one vote on the board?

Jeff Bowman: My number 1 priority is to bring the voice of the people north of the I-10 to the formally all Palm Springs board.  To accomplish this, I’ll use my ability to listen, ask intelligent questions, and seek consensus among the board members.   We are all participating in and must “play well together” in this sand box of the Coachella Valley.

UR: Do you believe DWA and MSWD should consolidate?

Jeff Bowman: Not at all!  By having two board members from the MSWD service area we’ll ultimately see a greater co-operation and understanding between the two boards, and this has been a long time coming.  Yet, both water districts are needed to serve their distinctly different populations.  Both water districts have different aquifers that they manage.  MSWD pumps its award-winning water from the Mission Creek aquifer and DWA does not.  MSWD deserves to continue to manage its water as it has done since the beginning.  Both water districts have logistical and unique needs that are best served by their own agencies.  Lastly, both are needed as both are two separate voices to the state on issues regarding water management.  Those who are voicing this idea are the same ones who wanted DHS to abandon its own police force and go with the sheriff several years back.  As it turned out their data of “cost savings” was totally off and we would have gotten poorer police service.  Those of us who live in DHS are proud of our award-winning water – both hot and cold.  What we really need is to unravel the lawsuits that have taken money out of the pockets of the ALL (MSWD and DWA) the ratepayers for decades.  That is where cost savings, efficiencies, and greater co-operation will be found.

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