Historic Water Conversation Today

Gary Toebben

September 26, 2017

Today, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors will hold a historic hearing on the California Water Fix proposed by Gov. Brown to modernize the State Water Project. The Governor's plan would greatly enhance the reliability of a long-term water supply for L.A. County and Southern California. It would also improve the environmental integrity of the Bay Area Delta which is an integral part of the State Water Project.

The State Water Project was approved by California voters in 1960 by a 51.5 to 48.5 percent margin. In hindsight, we now know that the State Water Project is a primary reason why the economy of L.A. County is today the 19th largest in the world.

The water that flows via the State Water Project from the Sierras in Northern California to the Central Valley and Southern California is distributed in Southern California by MWD. To get a picture of how important water from MWD is to the City of L.A., please open this graph. As you will quickly see, the water L.A. gets from the State Water Project via MWD is essential to our survival. We must assure its availability for our children and grandchildren. That is why the California Water Fix is so important.

In order for the California Water Fix to proceed, the water districts in central and southern California must agree to pay for the cost of the project which is estimated at $17 billion. MWD's share of that total would be 26 percent or $4.3 billion. This infrastructure investment by MWD is estimated to add about $2-3 per month for the average residential customer in MWD territory, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ratepayer advocate has determined that the cost would be less than $2 per month for a residential customer in L.A. The MWD Board of Directors will take a final vote at its regular Board meeting on Oct. 10.

It is important that the MWD Directors understand how strongly the business community supports the California Water Fix. Here is a list of the directors and their contact information. Please call the members that you know and send an email to the rest urging them to support the California Water Fix. The California Water Fix is the least expensive insurance policy we can buy to maintain the economic health of Southern California and two-thirds of the population in our state.

There is strong opposition to the California Water Fix by local environmental groups who believe that the project is unnecessary and too expensive. They believe that our water supply from the State Water Project can be replaced by conservation, recycling, ground water reclamation and storm water capture. All of these efforts are important, and some of the less expensive components are already underway, but replacing the lost water supply caused by not modernizing the water system with the California Water Fix is estimated to add $25 per month to a residential water bill in L.A. verses $2 per month to modernize the State Water Project. Plus, the California Water Fix can be done now.

Because of the foresight of leaders like William Mullholland and Pat Brown, the desert that we call Southern California is one of the major economic engines of the world and a place where millions of people want to live. Because water flows out of our faucets every day, It is easy to forget the vision, courage and investment that previous generations made to bring a reliable water supply to Southern California. We need that same vision, courage and investment today. Let's join William Mullholland and Pat Brown in continuing to improve the economy and quality of life in our great state.

And that's The Business Perspective.

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