The San Diego County Water Authority is drifting an extreme idea to upend how 19 million Southern Californians get their water.
The company paid for a poll last month that asked citizens whether they would support the state taking control of water products throughout the region, including much of the water used in San Diego.
The $31,000 poll is part of an aggressive $220,000 project the Water Authority is waging against another public water firm, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The Water Authority is a member of Metropolitan’s board and its biggest client, but the two firms have actually long been at odds. Water Authority officials blame Metropolitan for failing to get ready for a drought in the early-1990s and screwing San Diego then and now.
The majority of the poll’s 62 questions were created to evaluate different messages that might turn voters against Metropolitan, a tactic typical of political ballot. That alone is odd. One public company does not generally poll to determine how to damage another public company’s credibility.
Beyond that, one concern in the poll drifted a policy shift that would impact the water system of almost everybody in California south of Bakersfield.
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The poll asked whether “The state needs to action in and purchase water for our area till the MWD [Metropolitan] can fix its fiscal mismanagement.”
For the Water Authority to make such a suggest is unusual: For the past two years, the agency has been slamming Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration for aiming to micromanage regional water firms during the dry spell. Now, it suggests some kind of state control is the way to go.
Metropolitan is frequently viewed as distinct force acting on behalf of Southern California, consisting of San Diego, in the limitless power struggles over water in this state. If the state were suddenly in charge, it’s possible other political interests– like Northern California ecologists or effective cliques of Central Valley farmers– could use their impact in Sacramento to gain more control.
During a board conference last week, a few Water Authority board members wondered about the poll, which a number of them had not seen prior to.
Water Authority assistant general manager Dennis Cushman told everyone not to take the question about state control too seriously.
” They do not represent particular propositions that we’re advising pursuing,” Cushman stated.
Gary Arant, a member of the Water Authority’s board who was not involved in crafting the poll questions, told Cushman that even drifting such ideas threatened.
” I’m simply worried sometimes these concepts take life and the next thing you understand …” he said.
Arant stated he stressed the state may choose to take control not only of Metropolitan but also of the Water Authority. The Water Authority has a governance structure almost similar to Metropolitan’s.
Metropolitan collects water from Northern California and the Colorado River and resells it to other water agencies throughout Southern California, consisting of the Water Authority. The Water Authority purchases this water then resells it within San Diego to regional companies, like the city of San Diego’s water department.
The Water Authority remains in the midst of a significant lawsuit versus Metropolitan, accusing it of loading inappropriate charges on San Diegans.
The Water Authority has adopted more uncommon techniques of aiming to challenge Metropolitan, consisting of a ratepayer-funded site called MWD Truths that slams Metropolitan’s decision-making. The information is often ostensibly accurate– it typically originates from Metropolitan’s own documents– however exists in a slanted or incomplete method.
The Water Authority just recently launched a new “Stop the Costs!” project.
The recent poll tested out several different attacks the Water Authority has actually been using. Among its primary accusations is that Metropolitan has actually been wantonly investing numerous millions of dollars on grass rebates and on land in the Sacramento– San Joaquin River Delta.
Metropolitan safeguards the turf rebates as a way to conserve water, and the land purchases as a way to prepare for the governor’s Twin Tunnels task, which has actually not yet been approved.
The Water Authority likewise implicates Metropolitan of gathering numerous millions of dollars in extra revenue by ignoring what does it cost? water it will offer each year. Metropolitan authorities state they have actually had trouble forecasting how much water they will offer because of variability in environment and weather patterns.
In the poll, the Water Authority also asked if citizens would support legislation banning these “overcharges” or if they would support getting rid of the basic supervisor and board officers at Metropolitan.
Right now, Metropolitan’s board picks its own officers– chair, vice chairs, secretary– and the board likewise picks the general supervisor of Metropolitan. The Water Authority has one of the biggest blocs of votes at Metropolitan, but nowhere near a bulk. Undoubtedly, due to the fact that of the battles it selects, the Water Authority frequently does not have many allies on the board. None of its agents are officers.
A bulk of people surveyed supported those procedures, however it’s unclear if they really understand the problems. At the start of the poll, 57 percent of the people surveyed said they understood little or absolutely nothing about Metropolitan.
The Water Authority’s outside experts promoted the fact that after giving voters more information about Metropolitan during the poll, individuals were likely to think adversely of Metropolitan.
Mark Muir, chairman of the Water Authority’s board, safeguarded the poll during a board conference last week. He stated it was an useful public opinion survey, not a “push survey,” which is the term for a political cheat. The goal of a push poll is to spread out unfavorable messages about someone or something under the guise of public viewpoint research.
Metropolitan wasn’t buying it.
” San Diego’s survey is a push poll designed to get outcomes the County Water Authority desires and it’s an unfortunate waste of ratepayer loan,” said Bob Muir, Metropolitan’s spokesman.
It’s not uncommon for the Water Authority to poll individuals about their mindsets towards water service. However those polls are typically of clients in San Diego. The current poll was unusual since it surveyed people throughout Southern California– outside of the Water Authority’s service area– and only consisted of signed up citizens.
A person does not have to be a registered voter to use water, so it’s possible the results of the survey don’t really represent the sentiments of the general population– about a quarter of Californians are not signed up to vote.
Mike Lee, a representative for the Water Authority, stated the choice to sample just citizens was “to guarantee a fundamental level of civic engagement by participants.”
This article connects to: Politics, Water