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Each year, Burbank releases more than 2 billion gallons of unused recycled water into the Los Angeles River, but a plan to divert some of that for use elsewhere could save the city thousands of dollars on the cost of importing potable water.
Under the proposed deal, the Burbank Water Reclamation Plant would redirect 110 million gallons of recycled water to North Hollywood each year, earning the utility credits that would be applied to the cost of importing potable water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Those credits would effectively save the city about $180,000 annually.
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Founded in 1928, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) is a confederation of 27 local water agencies that stretches from the Mexican border north to Santa Barbara.
MWD has been the dominant purveyor of imported water to this region for most of its history, acting as a secret, shadow government. It created an impenetrable megalith that did as it wished until the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) dared to guarantee its own source of this vital resource and secure its own water supply.
This quest began in 1995 as a result of MWD’s arcane “preferential rights” policy, which gives the Los Angeles region privileged access to MWD’s water during a drought. About 85 percent of San Diego’s water supplies came from MWD. Los Angeles’ need for backup water in a drought could balloon from 34 percent to 65 percent or more.
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Despite efforts by business groups, community activists, mayors and several Southern California water agencies to stop unecessary rate hikes and increased property tax collection by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the board voted to increase spending by $75 million instead of returning the money or rolling back rate increases.
The Southeast Water Coalition Joint Powers Authority on Monday sent a letter to MWD’s board of directors urging the giant water wholesaler to maintain current water rates instead of charging 5 percent more in 2014.
“Given that MWD has evidently underestimated its FY2014 water sales, SEWC calls on the Board to… hold the current rate,” the letter said.
The coalition also criticized MWD’s plan to suspend the state’s limit on the agency’s property tax rate, saying it appears to be an “end run around the California legislature’s corrective action of 1991 to hold MWD’s property tax rate to bond costs actually paid.”
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, working with a business alliance including the San Diego Regional Ecomonic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce, led the charge to protect the regional economy. The Mayor, Chamber and EDC submitted letters to MWD protesting the rate and tax increases. Oceanside Deputy Mayor Jerome Kern and Poway City Councilman Jim Cunningham also spoke on behalf of their ratepayers to show MWD how its rate increases hurt the average family.
The San Diego County Water Authority also objected and sent a letter questioning MWD’s budget actions because MWD has not developed a long-range financial plan to ensure its ongoing obligations and investments will be supported by its member agencies. Water Authority delegates to the MWD board asked MWD to refund the $75 million in overcharges to ratepayers across the region, including $16.4 million to San Diego County, and forego additional tax money.
Officials at Burbank Water and Power also sent MWD a letter of concern on Monday, saying they were “disappointed, to say the least” about the rapid growth of MWD’s reserves.
“It appears that MWD has missed an important step for good governance,” said Burbank’s letter. “The lack of clear and direct communication as to the current state of MWD’s budget and reserves has done real damage to the credibility of MWD management.”
Burbank officials said they don’t support MWD’s plan for a 5 percent rate increase in 2014. “The facts simply no longer support it,” their letter said.
Long Beach representatives also implored the board to roll back next year’s planned increases and Mayor Robert Foster from Long Beach sent a letter.
VOICES – It’s still Chinatown, and like Jake, we can’t forget it. On Tuesday (June 11), the powerful Metropolitan Water District (known as Met) will vote to take the first step towards raising property taxes to help pay for Governor Brown’s coveted twin-tunnel project 350 miles north of Los Angeles at an estimated price tag of $50 billion. The tunnels would deliver more water to California’s biggest corporate agribusinesses and oil companies in the Central Valley while southern California taxpayers and ratepayers would get most of the bill and no new water.
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The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest wholesale water agency, today will consider a reduction in a 5 percent rate increase scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
MWD has more money since water sales are up and expenses are down, leading to an increase in the district’s reserves, according to a staff memorandum from General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger and Gary Breaux, chief financial officer.
North County Times – San Diego County water officials and business leaders are set to protest Monday, March 12, at a hearing by Metropolitan Water District. The hearing concerns MWD’s proposed 2013 and 2014 water rates.