Jul 23 2014
This blog has mentioned the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) many
times. Just who is this faceless acronym? The San Diego County Taxpayers
Association summarizes the organization like this:
“There are a number of agencies responsible for providing water to ratepayers
in San Diego County. This includes five water districts, three irrigation
districts, eight municipal water districts, one public utility district, six
cities and one federal agency (Camp Pendleton). Each of these 24 entities
has a seat on the board of the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA), which
sets water policy for the county as a whole.
At the County Water Authority, there is a 36 person Board of Directors that
is appointed by the member agencies. In this capacity, they are responsible
for setting county-wide water policies. At member agencies, the board
usually consists of five directors who are elected by voters in the
geographical districts they represent. As elected representatives, directors
are responsible for adopting policies in accordance with their director’s
needs and representing their district if appointed to serve on the County
Water Authority Board of Directors.”
While it is true the directors of the twenty-four water agencies are elected
by the public, the SDCWA directors are appointed by the agencies, and as
noted in the quote above, they are “.responsible for adopting policies in
accordance with their director’s needs and representing their district.”
If you followed all of that organizational stuff, good for you. Translating:
If the appointed person on the SDCWA board is not a good soldier and decides
to wander from their district’s agenda, they are history.
There is a question that never seems to get answered, and that is why do we
in San Diego County have twenty-four water districts? We get water from two
sources, the State Water Project and the Colorado River. Isn’t this archaic
arrangement something left over from the days when roads were few and
getting around the County on horseback was time-consuming? But let’s set
that aside for the moment to consider a few economic factors.
Each of these twenty-four districts have multi-million dollar budgets, where
a significant part of the budget is consumed in management compensation, and
health and welfare benefits for the directors. From 2005 to 2011 Helix spent
$1.1 million for director’s perks. Jobs in other words. Now think about how
these managers are paid. Water users pay their bills and part of the bill
goes to compensate the managers and directors. When water use goes down,
revenue goes down, so theoretically the price should go up. But the public
gets very angry when water rates are raised, causing severe anxiety among
the elected district directors and their managers. So in the end, saving
water is a bad thing for water district jobs.
That is the reason water policy in San Diego is focused on storage and not
the production of new water, i.e., potable recycling. Get it? Stored water
is cheap water, potable recycled water is expensive water. To save water
district manager’s jobs (and continue to re-elect the same directors), water
has to be abundant, cheap stored water.
There is only one flaw in this kind of water policy….in a drought there is
no water to store. And that is why this archaic bureaucratic top heavy
organizational structure has to change to a Water Authority for the County
elected by the voters in San Diego County. Not a thirty-six member board of
appointed puppets for the twenty-four districts, but a much smaller elected
board. If the entire City of San Diego can be administered by twelve council
members, why couldn’t the same number administer the water policy in the
County? Something to think about.
If the SDCWA was a private company organized in twenty-four divisions in a single geographical location,
producing a single product from two sources, just how many nanoseconds would
it take to reorganize the structure?
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, water rate hike