Letter to the Editor: Water Bill Seems Excessive


 I don’t know about everyone else, but I keep saving water and my water bill seems excessive. Maybe this is one reason why: There are two water agencies responsible for water here. There is the OC Water District (OCWD, our groundwater) and the Municipal Water District of OC (MWDOC, our imported water). The Grand Jury recommended combining these two into one (twice actually). Not surprisingly, while OCWD says of course this is a good idea, the smaller MWDOC says it is not. So nothing happens. This fits the pattern of no government ever voluntarily reducing itself in size. The benefits seem obvious, not the least of which would be cost savings. Do we really need two positions paying $421,000 and $350,000 to run these two agencies – not to mention the administrative duplications that exist? One strong agency with one voice would provide strong leadership in water conservation (kudos OCWD), more influence at all levels of government and again cost savings. Admittedly the two agencies provide water in different ways with different processes, and any merger would be complex. Yet it can be done and after all, the “what” should not be abandoned because we fear the “how.”

David S. Watkins, Laguna Beach

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  1. David:
    You’re not totally correct.
    A few years ago, the LB County Water District GM revitalized a groundwater right that we’d procured/negotiated long ago with OCWD, but never invoked.
    I think it’s a sizable portion but not exclusively all of our daily use, if memory serves, ≈ 1.5–2 million gallons per day averaged out over the year due to tourism fluctuations.
    Keep in mind that SCWD provides potable and recycled from around Lagunita/St. Catherine’s School on south.
    Our District, ≈ 19-20,000 year round people but bulging larger high season (estimated at 45,000), 8500 connections/hookups) has no infrastructure for recycled distribution within its domain, nor reclaims any at the Coastal Treatment Plant in Aliso Canyon either—-truly wasted water!
    And we don’t get that 1 million gallons/day directly from OCWD, I think we get a credit for a like amount from with MET?
    MWDOC is the middleman/broker, a “paper agency” with no infrastructure ownership, similar to real estate, they get a % of the costs of water imported by MET, this includes “wheeling” (transportation, infrastructure upgrades/rehab/calamitous breakages and O&M costs).
    From your words, I’d guess that you read Teri Sforza’s column at the OCR? It’s not accurate nor unbiased. She’s been milking this topic for a decade or more, feigning vigilance/oversight and investigative journalism.
    South OC got short shrift by the OCGJ and by Ms. Sforza, it’s like we’re non-existent or unimportant in other people’s Machiavellian power trips and games.
    With all due respect you mentioned the “What” and the “How,” but the one you left off is the “Why.”
    Q.: Why DO we need that consolidation here in South OC, let alone Laguna Beach?
    A: We don’t.
    It’s a ruse, a canard by OCWD Board members seeking to increase their power, decrease ours. We here in the South would gain nothing tangible or worthwhile by merging or constellating.
    We’d actually have LESS not MORE say-so.
    OCWD has cajoled the OCGJ into visiting and revisiting this idea repeatedly for decades—it’s gone nowhere and is neither achievable or realistic.

  2. I stand corrected, just called a SOC GM in the know, the 1 mgd CAN be provided by OCWD via PCH from Newport plumbing, the balance from Met comes down the Canyon!
    Unfortunately, Newport is NOT cooperating, so even though we reacquired our legal right (1 mgd), we haven’t been able to actually get it as promised.
    So right now, ALL of our potable is from MET.


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