A historic water agreement was celebrated today on the grounds of the Sycuan Indian Reservation. While Sycuan’s new hotel is getting most of the public attention, a reliable water supply for the reservation is an even bigger achievement. Everyone involved in Monday morning’s commemoration of a water delivery agreement, reached last August between Sycuan and the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, noted it was 10 years in the making.
Ventura County’s main water supplier supports Gov. Gavin Newsom’s scaled-down Delta tunnel project, even though it’s been cut in half. Newsom said Tuesday in his State of the State address that he wants the twin-tunnel project — designed to re-engineer the troubled Northern California estuary that’s the hub of the state’s water-delivery system — reduced to a single tunnel. “I do not support the WaterFix as currently configured,” Newsom said. “Meaning, I do not support the twin tunnels. We can build, however, on the important work that’s already been done. That’s why I do support a single tunnel.”
As water projects go, Sites Reservoir has always been the Sacramento Valley’s baby – a multibillion-dollar reservoir conceived by Valley farmers, carved out of a ghost town an hour north of the Capitol. Around the Valley, “Build Sites Reservoir” signs dot the roads along mile after mile of orchards and rice fields. But a funny thing has happened as the Sites project, designed as the largest reservoir built in California since the 1970s, pulls together its financing: It’s becoming much less of a Sacramento Valley venture. Over the past two years, scared off by the anticipated costs of storing water there, Valley agricultural irrigation districts have steadily reduced their ownership shares of Sites, giving way to water agencies from Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.
Three new directors representing the cities of Fullerton and Santa Ana, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency were seated today on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Adán Ortega, who owns a Fullerton-based public affairs firm, will represent Fullerton on Metropolitan’s 38-member board. He replaces Peter Beard, who served since July 2014. Santa Ana City Councilman Jose Solorio will represent the city, replacing Michele Martinez, who joined the board in March 2015. Jasmin A. Hall, a retired Southern California Edison employee of more than 27 years, will represent the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, succeeding Michael Camacho, who was named to the board in February 2011.
At Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s January 16 board meeting, Ed Sprague assumed the position of president for the fourth time. Sprague will serve as president for the 2019-2020 term. In addition, Bob Topolovac is serving as vice president, Larry Watt as treasurer, Robert Kephart as secretary, and Christy Guerin as director and San Diego County Water Authority representative. Sprague began serving on the board in 2008 to represent Division 5, and has previously served as president for two consecutive terms between 2009 and 2012, and again from 2015 through 2016.
Gloria D. Gray has added another “first” to her extensive public service career, as she becomes the first African American elected to chair the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. Her two-year term, which began Jan. 1, marks only the second time that a woman has led the 90-year-old agency that, together with its member agencies, delivers water to 300 cities and unincorporated areas in Southern California.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday approved a plan for sharing Colorado River delivery cuts if a shortage is declared on the drought-depleted river.
The vote by the district, which imports water to the Southland, represents another step in a years-long attempt to forge a shortage agreement among the seven states that depend on the Colorado for drinking and irrigation supplies.
Yazdan “Yaz” Emrani was recently sworn in as the newest member of the Board of Directors for Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. Emrani is the director of Public Works for the city of San Fernando and is also the city’s engineer. His responsibilities as part of the MWD board includes serving on four Metropolitan boards including: Audit and Ethics Committee; Communications and Legislation Committee; Facilities Naming Ad Hoc Committee; and the Organization, Personnel and Technology Committee. Emrani is succeeding San Fernando Mayor Sylvia Ballin on the 38-member MWD board. Ballin had served on the MWD board since 2007.
San Fernando’s public works director and city engineer was sworn in Tuesday as the city’s representative on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Yazdan “Yaz” Emrani succeeds San Fernando Mayor Sylvia Ballin, who had served on the 38-member board since September 2007. Emrani has 30 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering, including planning, design and construction management of infrastructure improvement projects in both the public and private sectors.
San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer today sent a letter to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors that lays out a potential compromise approach by both parties designed to end nearly a decade of litigation over MWD’s rates.
The letter includes specific, practical terms that respect both the Water Authority’s and MWD’s perspectives towards an equitable conclusion in coming weeks.
“Concluding all pending court cases is in the best interest of everyone involved, and it would allow us to begin a new era of collaboration on other important regional and state issues,” said Madaffer, who started his tenure as chair on Oct. 1. “I hope MWD will embrace this gesture of good faith to seek settlement, and that we can do so in an expeditious and fair manner.”
Madaffer’s letter builds on the commitment of his predecessor, prior Water Authority Board Chair Mark Muir, to seek an end to lawsuits that started in 2010 and involve billions of dollars of contested rates and charges.
The Water Authority won several significant items in two cases covering MWD’s rates for 2011-2014, including additional rights to approximately 100,000 acre-feet a year of MWD water, invalidation of an illegal contract clause that MWD used to deny support for local supply development projects, and damages and interest on tens of millions of dollars of unlawful Water Stewardship Rate charges by MWD. The courts allowed MWD to continue charging historic State Water Project costs in water transportation rates charged to the Water Authority.
Key terms outlined in Madaffer’s letter include:
- Neither party should be expected to give up anything it won in court.
- MWD would change the way it charges for delivering the Water Authority’s independent supplies from the Colorado River by adopting a fixed price and tying future price increases to an inflation index each January 1.
- The Water Authority would drop pending claims challenging the legality of MWD’s Water Stewardship Rates that MWD charges on the purchase of MWD water supplies.
- The Water Authority would accept $5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs, a substantial reduction from the $8.9 million the trial court awarded to the Water Authority.
- MWD’s Board would approve a pending agreement to provide through its Local Resource Program funding for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Project, the Padre Dam-East County Advanced Water Purification Project and other pending local supply project agreements.
- The Water Authority would be granted a sub-account in MWD’s Colorado River Lake Mead Storage Project to store 200,000 acre-feet of eligible Water Authority supplies in Lake Mead, which would benefit both MWD and the Colorado Basin states.
More than 20 years ago, the Water Authority and its member agencies began improving the San Diego region’s water supply reliability by lessening reliance on MWD, which at the time supplied about 95 percent of all the water used in San Diego County.
The cornerstone of that diversification strategy is a set of agreements known collectively as the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement, which was signed in 2003 to secure independent water supplies for the Water Authority from the Colorado River. To deliver these supplies to San Diego County, the Water Authority must use pipelines operated by MWD because MWD owns the only large-scale conveyance facilities in Southern California for transporting water.
The Water Authority filed suit in 2010 seeking to invalidate MWD’s rates, and then filed additional suits in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 because MWD kept adopting rates using the same methodology and flawed cost allocations. A series of court decisions have been issued in the 2010 and 2012 cases. The other cases have been stayed in Superior Court during the appellate process on the initial two lawsuits.