All-American Canal

$50K “independent” report seeks to undermine historic water transfer agreement

UPDATED:   More than a month ago, the Water Authority released a draft report produced by several Southern California water agencies that was to be the centerpiece of a major p.r. campaign to confuse the public about the costs related to the Water Authority’s water transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District.  The draft report, discovered as part of a California Public Records Act request by the Water Authority, revealed a plan to surreptitiously commission the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to produce what the water agencies hoped would be viewed by the media and the public as an “independent” report.   The public records revealed that the consultants were handpicked for their point of view, and that MWD staff worked on the report and helped to edit the draft.

Read the North County Times, now U-T San Diego, story on the report and the consultants that produced it.

Watch the KPBS-TV interview regarding the study.

Following its disclosure, the Water Authority requested to meet with the LAEDC and correct a number of factual errors and omissions in the report’s data.  Additionally, the Water Authority suggested an independent peer review of the report by an independent economist that would be selected jointly by MWD and the Water Authority.  Although an LAEDC staff person initially agreed to meet, no effort to follow-up on the Water Authority’s offer was made.

Now, more than 18 months and $50,000 later, the agencies released the final report on April 23 with numerous factual errors and omissions, including:

  • The price that the Water Authority pays the Imperial Irrigation District for its independent transfer supplies have nothing to do with whether or not MWD’s transportation rates are legal.
  • The Water Authority’s court challenge is over the price that MWD charges it to transport water purchased from Imperial Valley.  The Water Authority is NOT suing IID over the price we’re paying for the water supplies.
  • The 45-to 75-year water transfer agreements are now in their tenth year.   Those transfer supplies have greatly benefitted not only San Diego County, but all of Southern California.  During the last drought in 2009 and 2010,  when MWD was forced to cut back water deliveries to its member agencies by 13 %, these supplies possibly averted even greater cutbacks.  In San Diego County, the transfer supplies allowed the Water Authority’s cutback to its member agencies to be 8% instead of 13%.  They also reduced regionwide demand on the system, which helped all of MWD’s member agencies during a during a time of  limited supply and uncertainty.
  • Because the facts matter, the Water Authority is currently analyzing the final report, and will publish the results on this website.

To view the Water Authority’s March 8 letter to the LAEDC with its initial concerns with the report, click here.