Lack of Transparency, Poor Planning Plague MWD’s Turf Program

Why are consumers of water forced to pay historic increases in water rates by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California?  A big reason is their lack of transparency, which often serves to hide reckless spending from the public.

The latest example involves MWD’s “turf removal rebate program.”

A blockbuster exposé in the Los Angeles Times found the program suffered from gross mismanagement, poor planning, and lax oversight by the LA water bureaucrats – resulting in higher water rates for consumers.

MWD’s turf rebate debacle was one of the most expensive water supply programs in its history – all paid for by  water ratepayers.

For months, MWD didn’t even require participants in this turf removal program to show receipts proving they actually removed turf. Even now, after the scandal forced the LA water bureaucrats to make some changes, receipts are only required if the applicant is seeking more than $100,000 in rebates.

The LA-based water agency’s own internal auditor wrote a report on the program, finding “inadequate planning, execution, and follow-up of inspection and verification procedures.”

Remarkably, MWD bureaucrats continue to defend the turf rebate program – claiming they are “more than satisfied” with it because handing out money with little oversight was popular.

As the kids say, “no duh!”  If someone stood on a street corner handing out $1,000 bills, that would be popular, too.  But popularity does not make a program prudent, fiscally sustainable or good water conservation policy.

The San Diego County Water Authority repeatedly tried to put the brakes on this wasteful spending to save ratepayer money and will keep fighting to protect ratepayers and water supply.

In fact, the San Diego County Water Authority has consistently expressed serious concerns about the negative impact MWD’s various out-of-control spending practices have on water users. (To read the letters that the Water Authority has sent expressing concerns on many, many issues, visit the letter library.)

The Voice of San Diego also reported on the issue, finding that it mostly benefited the wealthy and could raise everyone’s water bills.

Officials: That Wildly Popular Water-Saving Program Isn’t Really Worth It

MWD’s reckless spending has contributed to historic increases in water rates at MWD over the past decade Since 2006, MWD’s treated water rate has more than doubled, with rate increases of 7.6 percent, compounded annually.  MWD’s untreated water rate has risen nearly as fast, with rate increases of 6.7 percent, compounded annually.



It’s long past time to reign in the out-of-control LA Metropolitan Water District, to stop the financial mismanagement that has led to record rate hikes.  Please contact the MWD via this form and ask them to start containing costs in order to stop our rapidly escalating water rates.