Pleasanton Weekly

Column - June 4, 2010

Trim agencies to curb water costs

by Jeb Bing

Jerry Thorne may not win any popularity contests at the Livermore-Amador Valley Water Management Agency (LAVWMA), where the Pleasanton councilman is a member of the board of directors. He wants to ax the agency as a first step toward streamlining the area's water delivery and sewer services system. Responding to a City Council decision to raise water and sewer rates by an average of $10.40 on a bi-monthly period billing, Thorne agrees that water is a finite commodity and no doubt will cost more as time goes on, rising by another 6 to 9 percent over the next several years. But it's not all due to water shortages or the high cost of finding and pumping water for Pleasanton and other Tri-Valley users. He thinks there are just too many agencies and "middle-men" involved in the process.

The LAVWMA board, he says meets once every other month and meetings last about 15 minutes. He suggests the work of that agency could be handled by others with the Tri-Valley cities it serves sharing the workload and expenses. Another joint-powers agency, the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) already handles maintenance work on the 16-mile wastewater pipeline that LAVWMA operates from Pleasanton to San Leandro where the effluent is discharged into the Bay. LAVWMA's facilities span from Livermore to the Bay for the sole purpose of pushing the wastewater through pipelines over the Dublin grade, through Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and into an outfall owned by the East Bay Dischargers Authority (EBDA), another agency that adds to a consumer's bill for water and sewer services.

Although Livermore and Pleasanton council members sit on the LAVWMA board, Pleasanton has no representation on DSRSD, which is also funded by business and household consumers. Years ago, when Pleasanton found itself woefully understaffed and under-funded in operating its own sewage treatment plant near where the Senior Center is now located, it contracted with DSRSD to handle the load. As a contractor instead of a member partner of the organization, Pleasanton has no representation on the DSRSD board, which is run by elected representatives from Dublin and San Ramon. Thorne suggests taking another look at that arrangement and, in the meantime, wants residents to show up at meetings to let the DSRSD management know we're watching what they do and how much they spend.

Also part of the rising cost factor for Pleasanton water is the Zone 7 Water Agency, a more visible water supplier whose president is Dick Quigley, a Pleasanton resident. Its seven-member board of directors is elected by the area it serves and provides strategic guidance for a staff of engineers, program planners and finance officers. Pleasanton water customers receive 82 percent of their water from Zone 7 which, as Thorne says, is yet another agency and board and staff financed by residential and business water customers. From Zone 7, water responsibility moves to the Delta with all of its financial issues and to the State Department of Water Resources, a major state agency that assigns water sourcing and delivery volumes.

Thorne wants Pleasanton to take the lead in streamlining the water and sewage disposal process, possibly moving toward a single agency that would do it all. As it is, with little control over all the costs associated with water, it's the City Council that has the responsibility and takes the blame when supply and delivery factors well beyond its control cause rates to rise, which it then gets blamed for. Thorne wants to change that.


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

How refreshing! Here we have an incumbent politician who wants to streamline and simplify a government process and save some money. We need more of this kind of thinking. I would, however, disagree with the comment regarding water as a finite commodity. While this is true, it is also irrelevant. In California, we don't have a water shortage; we have a water storage shortage.

Posted by m, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I hear the talk ... now let's see the walk!!!!

Posted by Sarah Palmer, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm

This past summer I visited Oroville and San Luis Reservoirs. They were both a case of near empty. Didn't look like storage space was the problem to me!

Posted by Kelly, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jul 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Low levels at the reservoirs IS MAN MADE! Just like the Congress Created Dust Bowels on I-5.Extremists water diversion is affecting Oroville and San Luis is the same story.

Its an issue between those that want to continue a wonderful prosperous American lifestyle and those that want to bring us back into the dark ages and tear down energy creating dams. Too bad there are so many useful idiots that cant take their blinders off to understand what has been going on for the last 30 years. Conservation is no longer what it started out to be. These commissions, deciding boards and conservation groups are run by and loaded up with complete enviro extremists and their useful idiots.

Web Link Storage vs. conservation (Enviro Extremism)

Let's get rid of the tax and spend regulation and waste in the Water district! I for one am sick of how they got away with raising our water to pay for all of the extremists water regulations.

The Lake Oroville Complex, 70 miles north of Sacramento in Butte County is the official starting point of the State Water Project, and includes Lake Oroville, Thermalito Forebay, and Thermalito Afterbay -- each offering its own unique attractions.

These facilities, along with two pumping-generating plants (including Hyatt Powerplant constructed in an underground cavern) and one power plant, provide regulated water storage and flood control, generate power, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and release freshwater flows to maintain water quality standards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The Oroville-Thermalito facility is overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which routinely licenses and inspects private, municipal and state hydroelectric projects and issues throughout the nation.
Web Link

The California State Water Project is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, powerplants and pumping plants. Its main purpose is to store water and distribute it to 29 urban and agricultural water suppliers in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California and the Delta. Of the contracted water supply, 70 percent goes to urban users and 30 percent goes to agricultural users.

The Project is maintained and operated by the California Department of Water Resources.

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