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4 Years After a Corruption Scandal, West Basin Water District Still Wrestling with Ethics

When Ronald Smith became ensnared in a corruption probe and resigned in disgrace from an obscure South Bay water agency, his board colleagues quickly vowed to impose changes to combat such ethical lapses. The Carson-based West Basin Municipal Water District, which has a $200 million budget and supplies imported water to 17 mostly South Bay cities, performed an audit, overhauled codes of conduct for board members and eliminated individual community outreach funds, the same pot of money that Smith used to steer $20,000 of public funds through a Torrance nonprofit to pay for personal expenses. But that was three years ago.

OPINION: State Water Grab will Devastate our Community

Are you a mechanic? A food processor? A trucker? Do you work in a bank? Sell insurance? Much more simply, do you drink water in eastern Merced County? Assuming you answered yes to any of these questions, get ready: the State Water Resources Control Board will soon vote to take more than $230 million and about 1,000 jobs from our community. In July, the water board released its newest plan to require that twice as much water remain in the Merced River and flow north into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. After a series of hearings and delays, the board is poised to adopt this doomed-to-fail plan on Nov. 7.

Flood of Distrust: A Deep Dive into San Diego’s Water Department

What started as a trickle of billing complaints surged into a flash flood of allegations raised about the city of San Diego’s Water Department. NBC 7 Responds’ investigation into billing errors led to the discovery of faulty water meters and a lack of transparency over the city’s multi-million-dollar smart meter program. Some of the team’s findings have led to the department taking corrective action. “Flood of Distrust” will give you an inside look at the investigative journey from start to finish.