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.
Additional information is available on the Water Authority website.
San Diego Union Tribune: County water authority proposes sweeping legal settlement with Metropolitan Water District
Times of San Diego: Water Authority Offers to End Decade-Old Rate Dispute with Los Angeles
Water veteran and community advocate Gloria D. Gray was recently elected chairwoman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California. She has vast experience in state, regional and local water issues and has served as West Basin Municipal Water District’s (WBMWD) representative on the 38-member Metropolitan board since April 2009. “I am excited to help lead Metropolitan into the next era, as we work collaboratively to overcome challenges to our imported water supplies brought by climate change, invest in local resources and continue providing a reliable water supply to Southern California,” Gray said.
The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a downtown-based water wholesale cooperative, selected local water official Gloria Gray as its new chair. Gray, who has represented the West Basin Municipal Water District on the 38-member Metropolitan board since 2009, will serve a two-year term beginning Jan. 1; she will succeed Randy Record, who has held the post since May 2014. Gray is the first African-American to lead the board and only the second woman to do so in the district’s 90-year history.
In a vote by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) Board of Directors, West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) Director Gloria D. Gray was elected to serve as chairwoman of the MWD board. Gray is the first African American woman in Metropolitan’s 90 -year history to hold the position and the first person of color to become chair. Gray replaces former chairman Randy Record, who held the position since May 2014.
In 1995, the San Diego County Water Authority began negotiations with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) for the transfer of up to 500,000 acre-feet of water per year from the fertile farming area in the southeastern corner of California. In 1998, the Water Authority and IID signed an agreement that provided for the transfer of between 130,000 and 300,000 acre-feet of water per year, depending on the exercise of certain options. Despite legislation signed in 1998 by then Governor Pete Wilson to encourage the transfer, its actual implementation took five more years to materialize.
Faced with the propsect of reduced sales to its largest customer, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) responded to the Water Authority-IID deal with an all-out battle to protect its monopoly. In late 2003, pressure from the California State Legislature and the governor forced MWD to back down. It joined the Water Authority, IID, the Coachella Valley Water District, state of California, and the U.S. Department of the Interior in signing the historic Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA). The QSA created a plan for limiting the state’s use of Colorado River water to its basic annual appointment of 4.4 million acre-feet, instead of continuing to rely on surplus supplies that belonged to other fast-growing states in the Southwest.
Wholesale water rates adopted today by the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors include some of the smallest increases in the past 15 years due to successful litigation against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and strategic use of financial reserves. They also highlight a historic shift in water costs: The Water Authority’s independent and highly reliable supplies from the 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement are now less expensive for the region than MWD, and that difference will grow in the years ahead.