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Central Basin, WRD, Lawmakers engulfed in ‘water war’

By Brian Hews

A bill winding its way through Sacramento is causing a stir within two of the most powerful local water agencies over who has the ìlegalî rights to oversee the management of groundwater.
State Senator Alan Lowenthal is pushing a bill that he says will ìremove barriers to groundwater storageî in the Central Basin by clarifying existing law concerning the management of groundwater.
SB 1386 is slated to be heard in a Senate committee next week and according to Lowenthal will ìclarify existing law so that it is clearî that the Central Basin Municipal Water District does not have ìauthority to manage or control the storage of groundwater because there is already a water rights judgment in place and a water replenishment district (Water Replenishment District of Sothern California) has authority to deal with groundwater supplies.
Lowenthal thinks that the problem with the current law is that both water replenishment districts and municipal water districts have the ability ìto store water,î but does differentiate between groundwater and surface water.
ìThe boundaries between Central Basin Water District and WRD of Southern California overlap,î Lowenthal claims.
ìSince the creation of the two districts in the 1950’s, the Central Basin Municipal Water District has fulfilled the role of securing imported surface water supplies and the Water Replenishment District has concerned itself with groundwater,î Lowenthal said.
Art Aguilar, General Manager of the Central Basin Water District told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that Lowenthal’s bill is ìa direct attackî on his agency and called it ìtotally prematureî and ìunneeded.î
ìThis is just politics, and a turf battle,î Aguilar said. He said the bill was specifically written to ìsingle out Central Basin Water Districtî and even going further by stating ìthis will not pertain to any other water district in California, just Central Basin.î
Central Basin Water District President Edward Vasquez told Lowenthal last week in a letter that the bill ìsets a dangerous precedent for all California water agencies.î
ìWe have yet to see any justification for the targeted attack this bill makes on a single water district. The passage of this legislation would unduly impede Central Basin’s ability to perform its core functions and would pave the way for future attempts to usurp the power of one agency and provide it to another,î Vasquez told Lowenthal in his correspondence.
But, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano of Norwalk who is now the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee of Water and Power called for the passage of the bill.
Napolitano told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper this week in a statement that the bill is ìnecessaryî because she claims ìin recent years the Central Basin Municipal Water District has inserted itself into the groundwater area, first by purchasing groundwater extraction rights it does not use, and then by relying on those right to file or intervene in groundwater litigation costing (taxpayers) millions of dollars.î
Napolitano also pointed out that Central Basin MWD has ìsponsored unsuccessful legislation naming itself the groundwater overseer of the Central Basin.î According to Napolitano’s office, CBWD had funded a Program Environmental Impact Report to control all groundwater in the district, and action she said that ìis opposed by the vast majority of its member cities, if not every groundwater producer in both the Central and West Coast Basins.î
Also backing the bill is the City of Norwalk, City of Lakewood, City of Paramount, as well as the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners

  • Floyd Farrar says:

    Anything Napolitano and Lowenthal have their fingers in will smell of rottenness and will involve money.. probably going into cronies’ pockets!

  • Jay Gray says:

    On Friday afternoon, Senator Fran Pavley, Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water pulled SB 1386 from the Committee hearing scheduled for this coming Tuesday. This effectively means that this bill, at least under the title of SB 1386, is dead since it will not pass out of its Committee of origin by the deadline of this coming Friday.

    Furthermore, it is my understanding that Senator Pavley’s decision to pull the bill was not discussed with the author, Senator Lowenthal, prior to her action. In addition, I am told that according to Senator Lowenthal’s office, they still do not know why the bill was pulled since the Chair and the author had met Thursday and the Pavley was fine with the bill at that time.

    In my opinion, put into perspective, this all reeks of dirty water politics and another soaking of us water rate payers. Many water experts supported this legislation. So, why then was it pulled? It seems the Central Basin Water District (CBMWD) has become the personal piggy bank for a select few individuals intent on gouging water rate payers. Likewise, I find it interesting how some of the same names and organizations in the city of Bell scandal pop-up as profiting from contracts given out by the CBMWD.

    It’s a sad day for the all the families in our communities when Central Basin’s fees have gone from $5 to $90 in just over two decades (18 fold). That would be equivalent of a gas pump prices sky-rocketing from $1.15/gallon, in 1990 to nearly $21/gallon today!

    Phil Hawkins and the rest of the Central Basin crew keep talking about social justice, yet they alone have helped to financially burden every family in the Central Basin Water District.

    Tony Mendoza, the other candidate has been a member of the State Assembly for 8-years isn’t any better. Furthermore, I am surprised your paper included an article, touting him as an “outsider,” when for the past 8-years he has sat in the State Assembly (as an insider) and turned a blind eye as water rate payers were soaked by Hawkins and the Central Basin crew. Only now, as he is termed out of his assembly seat, is he speaking up.

    I encourage all your readers to watch the 3 candidate interviews that Los Cerritos Community news posted online.

    I am also waiting on the candidate’s debate that your paper mentioned they were interested in hosting. I think the people of Central Basin Municipal Water District deserve to hear Hawkins defend his role in rate increases and Mendoza defend his inaction by ignoring pleas for help from water rate payers.

    Jay Gray
    Candidate for the Central Basin Municipal Water District

  • Floyd Farrar says:

    If anyone thinks Tony Mendoza is NOT complaisant in any of this dirty water stuff then they have their heads up their fannies! Mendoza is one of the WORST assembly members in the entire legislature (and that says a lot)! He has been my rep for since he ran Bermudez out of office (both are libtard left wing bozos) so we gained nothing! I have been writing and communicating with his office for at LEAST six years. NEVER in that time have I even received a card or form letter! So much for constituents who DO NOT agree with his heavy hand politics! If you are not Hispanic or cotton to the uber liberal line of BS then you are NOT on his radar scope! IF he gets into the Water District he will have an OPEN cookie jar of money to dip into and corrupt MORE systems! Do NOT VOTE FOR THIS FRAUD!