Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Business of Delivering Water.

Yesterday when I pointed out that delivering water is BIG BUSINESS, I should have been more clear that the old boys club at Metropolitan Water District is not responsible for the proposed delivery of desalinated water from Carlsbad.  That decision is actually our own local misguided water managers here in San Diego at our own County Water Authority.

The irony is our local SDCWA is suing the old boys network at MWD with a claim that their wholesale rates are too high, yet these same local managers want to purchase the Carlsbad-Billion-Dollar-Water!  As a bystander, it is ironic that on one hand they want a reduction, but on the other, no price is too high to pay.

And to those who are saying, ‘but it’s only $780 million, not a billion’ – let’s remember there is mitigation required to offset all the fish killed during the intake process of sucking the water out of the ocean.  The mitigation is a local wetlands restoration project.  Just how many millions will that cost?  So a billion dollars for desalinated water in San Diego is not that far off.

So, from the environment’s perspective, none of these water supply managers is really that different.  They are all using unsustainable practices that do not place enough value on the very resource they are in charge of managing.

Water supply agencies need reform.  They have become businesses.  There is not enough emphasis placed on conservation.  We have not even scratched the surface on this no-cost supply option.  (For the record, if you are a water agency and you implement a rain garden, that is not a conservation program.)  And these water agencies in charge of managing our precious resources should be doing just that: managing the delivery of water with a holistic approach.  Not arguing over rates on one hand, but spending billions to provide California with “an unlimited supply” via desal  That is what a business would do, not a public agency.   The current philosophy is completely unsustainable, and just amounts to a mockery of resource management when the costs to our coast, the habitat of the fish and the ocean life, our enjoyment of the beach, and our pocketbooks is all up for grabs.

Monday, February 27, 2012

MWD Directors Eating Steak & Drinking Wine is NOTHING ($1.5 mil) Compared to $780 Million Added to Water Bills.

Image provided courtesy of CBS News, Los Angeles.

Delivering water is BIG BUSINESS, folks.

One would think that a community’s precious water delivery would be administered by a group of academic-like, gray-haired wise policy makers.  Instead, as this video shows, it’s an old boys club, spending willy-nilly, and living high on the hog -- over a million dollars in expenses like steak and lobster dinners, and $55.00 bottles of wine, with the tax payers footing the bill!  Here’s the thing though: these expenses are just a drop in the bucket when you consider these same water resource managers are about to stick us with an additional $780 MILLION DOLLAR bill for an outdated desalination plant that is simply not needed if they would just manage our water resources properly.

Just ask Santa Barbara what happened to their desalination plant.  Their water managers also spent millions, but the community conserved… and then it rained.

Or ask the folks in Melbourne, Australia.  They spent millions too, and the good folks down under conserved their water use…  and then it rained.  

If our water managers could curb their gluttonous appetites, and apply some much-needed discipline to their business management practices, we could have stronger conservation measures in place in our communities.  And, with our ability to turn wastewater into drinking water, we could supply our communities with even more water, all at a much cheaper cost than desalination.

Fundamental questions: when did managing our most precious resources become a way to finance a high-end lifestyle?  When did the administration of a public agency mean eating and drinking like it’s one’s last meal?  When did water delivery become about profits at the expense of the environment and it’s citizens who live paycheck to paycheck?

Honestly, can we really expect the people in charge of conserving our most precious resource to conserve it if they run their agencies like the well will never run dry?

And with such a culture in place, it makes me wonder what the average citizen’s response will be when they get that first bill for the Carlsbad-Billion-Dollar-Water (because that’s what it will cost by the time they add in the water managers dinner expenses...).  I bet as soon as that desalinated water gets delivered, and the water bills go out, every citizen cuts back their usage, because that’s what people do when they get a bill that’s too high.  THEY USE LESS.  But, guess what – we will still have to pay, folks because the water managers who are working on delivering us Carlsbad-Billion-Dollar-Water, require us to pay for it whether we use it or not.

And all this is just another example of bad resource management brought to us by the folks in charge of managing our precious resources, because after all to them, it's just how BIG BUSINESS WORKS.

Feb 28: Editor's note: I wrote some further clarification on this post today.