MWD Chairman Asks San Diego County Water Leader to Reconsider Position Supporting Waste of Water

Disappointed with the San Diego County Water Authority's position supporting the state's decision to let 30 million gallons of drinking water intended for Southern California flow into the Pacific Ocean, the chairman of Metropolitan Water District's board of directors today asked the county's top water official to reconsider the stance.

"It is at times like these that Southern Californians should come together to preserve and conserve our water resource investments," writes Metropolitan Chairman Phillip J. Pace in a one-page letter to Bernie Rhinerson, chairman of the Water Authority's board of directors.

Pace's letter responds to the "misleading comments" Water Authority officials made in backing the state's decision not to allow Metropolitan to store the remaining 100,000 acre-feet of water the district purchased for $10 million earlier in the year from Sacramento Valley rice farmers. (An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two typical Southland families in and around their homes in a year.)

"Unless the San Diego County Water Authority reconsiders its support of this proposed massive waste of water, which rightfully belongs to our ratepayers, you will face the burden of explaining your position alone," Pace's letter states. "We strongly urge your reconsideration."

In a May 28, 2003 letter, Thomas Hannigan, then-director of the state Department of Water Resources, stated Metropolitan could store the 100,000 acre-feet of water remaining from the Sacramento Valley transfer in state reservoirs, including Lake Oroville, located north of Sacramento. Earlier this week, however, state officials confirmed that the state had reversed its decision and would not store urban Southern California's water because reservoirs along the state water system were full.

In response, Bennett Raley, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, stated in a letter to Gov. Gray Davis that the federal government would consider storing urban Southern California's water in federal reservoirs, including Lake Shasta, near Redding.

Pace, in his letter to Rhinerson, urges the Water Authority to join Metropolitan in requesting the state honor its previous intent to store the Sacramento Valley water.

"Just imagine, the amount of water that the state is willing to dump (100,000 acre-feet) is ten-fold the amount of water San Diego County would initially secure through its transfer from the Imperial Irrigation District (10,000 acre-feet)," Pace's letter points out.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

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