Jul 24 2014
The last blog, Water-The Third Rail Part XVIII, discussed the makeup of the
San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and its twenty-four water districts
represented on the SDCWA board by thirty-six appointees. Now let’s take a
look at the water districts.
Although there are twenty-four water districts, there are apparently just
sixteen managers, whose average annual compensation is $255,951.
Interestingly, the smallest district, Yuma, which has only nine employees
has the highest paid manager at $299,006. There are only 350 water meters in
this district, so each meter contributes $854 per year to the manager’s
Doing the math, the sixteen managers extract over $4.09 million dollars from
the revenues paid by the water users. In addition to the funds required to
support each district, there are at least five directors per district that
benefit from a series of perks, who from 2005 to 2011 took $10.1 million
dollars out of the revenue stream, or about $1.7 million per year.
So, from the revenues produced by water users paying their bills, not
including the employees who do the actual work of maintaining the water
systems, $5.8 million dollars a year goes to the managers and directors.
Let’s assume the number of employees will be the same to service the water
meters in all of the districts (it would naturally drop due to duplication
of effort). Let’s also assume the San Diego County Water Authority is
reorganized to provide twelve elected directors. Wouldn’t we save nearly six
million dollars a year? Of course the sixteen managers and one hundred
twenty directors would be out of a job, unless they decided to compete for
the twelve elected director positions.
Why twelve? Of the twenty-four water districts, there are sixteen managers.
Districts like Yuma, for instance with its nine employees could be absorbed
into a larger district, and there are at least three other similar
districts. Note the administrative burden of the SDCWA has not been touched
in this scenario. Would the directors be paid a salary? No, but they would
receive perks similar to the 120 directors now soaking up 1.7 million
dollars a year, at a much reduced cost. Why would anyone want to serve if
they are not compensated with a salary? Why do any of the current 120
Let’s also assume the current estimate is correct at $2.0 billion dollars to
build potable recycling for about one hundred million gallons per day using
the effluent from the Pt. Loma WWTP, and further assume the current water
use stays level at 500,000 acre-feet per year.
Using all of the above, there is no doubt, potable recycling is achievable
when common sense is applied to the current top heavy organizational
structure of the SDCWA. Space does not permit, and the writer would be
working outside of his expertise, to calculate the costs involved in
financing potable recycling, but a good start is to restructure the outdated
administration of the one resource upon which the entire socio-economic
welfare of San Diego County is based, water.
Is it possible? Yes. If the behemoth we call the Federal Government can
apply an across the board cut as was mandated by what was termed The
Sequester, and despite the dire warnings of disaster, nothing happened to
disturb the slow, but rising economy, the SDCWA can reorganize. Will it be
easy? No. The screams will resound across the land. Will it be good for San
Diego County water users? Yes.
“Progress begins with the belief that what is necessary is possible.”
— Norman Cousins,
By Milt Burgess • Blog • 0 • Tags: augmentation, California Aqueduct, Colorado River, conservation, dry centuries, El Nino, La Nina, MWD, precipitation, purification, purple pipe, rainfall, residential water user, State Water Project, water rate hike, water Storage, wet centuries