Experience Matters

By Dick Shaikewitz   |   October 11, 2018

37 cents of every dollar received by the Montecito Water District (MWD) from our customers goes to the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA) for our State Water deliveries. The CCWA operates and maintains the Central Coast water transmission system that brings northern California water all the way to Lake Cachuma.

Since 1997, CCWA has delivered 49,000 acre feet (AF) of water to the MWD. Due to the drought and dwindling local water supplies, MWD has acquired 12,543 AF of supplemental water at a total cost of $4.6 million, or about $368 per AF. This cost per acre foot is a fraction of the cost for the City’s desalinated water the Montecito Water Security Committee (Committee) is promising to get you.

The three candidates sponsored and funded by the committee have never attended a monthly CCWA meeting, and have little to no experience or knowledge on local and State water matters. And yet these candidates are spending some of their $100,000 in campaign money to send a colored brochure saying their “team will change the status quo and diversify our local water supply!”

It would certainly help if they knew what the “status quo” is. Being your MWD representative to CCWA for 12 years, I have been elected CCWA chair and am currently vice chair. If re-elected to the board, and assigned to my former CCWA position, I will be chair in January.

CCWA is facing significant and controversial decisions in 2018. Reassignment and transfer of the State Water Project (SWP) Contract from Santa Barbara County to CCWA is one of them. The Committee Candidates lack the qualifications and history regarding the reassignment-transfer of this contract. Even more troubling is that MWD will no longer have a leadership role at CCWA if the three candidates are all elected to the Water Board.

Another controversial SWP issue is the ongoing contract negotiation between the SWP contractors and the State Department of Water Resources (DWR). There is a proposed 50-year SWP contract extension to 2085 and the proposed twin tunnels project. If the twin tunnels are built, MWD’s share would be about 1/1000 of the project’s cost. The current DWR estimate for this one project is in the $20-billion range with project opponents saying it could be more than $40 billion.

If the three uninformed candidates are elected, and they serve with the two directors the committee sponsored two years ago, there will be no one with any historic background knowledge to assist in making intelligent and informed decisions. At our September MWD Board meeting that only one of the three candidates attended, one of the two committee directors (on the board for two years now) asked what the “Exchange Agreement” is. It was explained to him that this is an agreement between MWD and ID1, the Santa Ynez Water District, whereby MWD receives a portion of ID1’s Cachuma allocation and pays it back by delivering State water to them.

What’s significant is that a director with two years on the board is still learning about the complexities of the District, which are many. When I became a board member, there were three directors and an engineer with 12 to 21 years of MWD experience to help us. But the committee wants no one with years of MWD knowledge. The committee is looking for full absolute control of your water district.

MWD director Douglas Morgan is currently the president of Cachuma Operation Maintenance Board (COMB). This Joint Powers agency is made up of the MWD, Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria Water Districts. COMB operates and maintains water deliveries and the water transmission system from Lake Cachuma through the Tecolote Tunnel to the South Coast Conduit serving all the districts. COMB has an operation budget of $7,000,000 funded by the water districts. None of the Committee Candidates or two Committee current directors ever attended any of its meeting or know much about it.

The same applies to Cachuma Conservation Release Board (CCRB), another Joint Powers agency governed and funded by several of the Southcoast Water Districts. For a number of years, a Biological Opinion is being renegotiated between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These negotiations, funded in part by these agencies will affect the amount of water available to us from Lake Cachuma. None of the committee candidates or two committee MWD directors have ever attended a CCRB meeting or know much about it.

The committee’s sponsored three candidates for the MWD Board, two candidates for the Montecito Sanitary District (MSD), and the two current committee MWD directors are nice people, but they lack the knowledge, background, and experience to make informed decisions on the significant and controversial issues facing our District. Without incumbent director representation, the MWD will be flying blind in matters that will affect your current and future water supplies and water costs. 

Re-electing me to the MWD Board will provide the District with continuing knowledgeable and experienced representation. I will be able to analyze and understand the impacts and consequences and hopefully influence board decisions that affect you, our customers.


You might also be interested in...