So Cal Water Wars (formerly Surf City Voice) Update
After a month of retooling, this newsletter resumes regular weekly publication Oct. 4. Here's a list of story topics for the next two months.
First, about the name change from Surf City Voice to SoCal Water Wars (socalwaterwars.substack.com).
On August 12, 2021, I changed the name of this publication to SoCal (Southern California) Water Wars in order to narrow its focus and properly cover all the issues that I have promised to cover.
Second, I spent a lot of time in Substack’s webinars over the past month in order to learn how to better promote my newsletter. I would much rather spend all my time researching and writing, but promotion is necessary if the newsletter is to succeed. Which is why I ask all of my readers to please share socalwaterwars with all of your friends and associates.
The main focus of SCWW from now on will be on three overlapping areas of Southern California water management that are often in open conflict with one another and within their ranks:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and its member agencies throughout Southern California
In Orange County, the Municipal Water District of Orange County, the Orange County Water District, and their member agencies
The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies
In that vein, my opening story on October 4 will be a report on an address to be given by Adel Hagekhalil, the MET’s new general manager. He will speak (Sept 30, 5;30) to a herd of “water buffalos” (a term meant to describe for better or worse the people who manage our water) at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa.
As is always the case, these kind of events are tailor-made for water buffalos who often get their way paid, not for hoi poli like me and the general ratepayers who often can’t afford the high entry fees, which in this case is $90 and provides a salmon dinner and the chance to mingle freely amongst the herd.
According to the official blurb, Hagekhalil has pledged that the MET “will build on our investment in local water supplies, including recycled water and stormwater” and “will outline his blueprint to bring regional water agencies together to ensure long-term water reliability for all of Southern California.”
I will report on Hagekhalil’s speech and the reaction to it. I also hope that he will answer my pre-delivered question about the San Diego County Water Authority’s (CWA) new “reliability” dream: a $5 billion project proposal to transport Colorado River water across the “protected” Anza Borrego wilderness.
I asked him to answer with context related to the ongoing water war (since early 1990s) between the MET and the CWA, which helps explain things like the Anza Borrego conveyance proposal, the Carlsbad ocean desalination plant, San Diego County’s highest-in-the-nation water rates, and the CWA’s financial brinksmanship in general—which will be the subject of ongoing examination by this newsletter.
Which reminds me, why won’t the CWA tell anyone anymore how much the water from its beloved $1 billion ocean desalination plant (beloved by CWA, but not as much by its member agencies and ratepayers) costs per acre-foot? That information has always been hard to come by.
Recently, when Padre Dam Municipal Water District board-member Suzanne Till asked CWA’s deputy general manager, Dan Denham, he told her board of directors that the price was $2,800 an acre-foot, about three times the cost of MET’s imported water.
But that was an outdated figure and the real cost is probably over $3,000 an acre foot, contradicting Poseidon’s claim that eventually its desal water would cost less than MET’s imported water.
And when opponents of a proposed $1.4 billion Huntington Beach desalination plant, to be built by the same company (Poseidon Water) that built the Carlsbad plant, asked for the yearly cost update they were told it would no longer be provided. I will be asking for this information until I get it, and rest assured I will report on my progress along the way.
Speaking of Poseidon’s Huntington Beach proposal, it will be coming before the California Coastal Commission most likely sometime in November or December, say people involved in that process. However, Poseidon was recently missing information in its application, which may cause further delays.
In any case, starting in early October, I will start outlining all the important aspects of the project in the weeks and days leading up to that hearing, which also means continuing the ongoing series, “Poseidon Town.”
I will also be introducing a new reporting feature on socalwaterwars called Fire and Rain, a monthly videocast that features interviews with water providers, water protectors, and ratepayers to examine in detail the specific and broad water management issues that we all face.
All of this requires a full time effort on my part which I hope readers will show their appreciation for by voluntarily signing up for paid subscriptions and by sharing this newsletter with others.