WRD Urges Governor To Sign Legislation To Protect Area Groundwater Resources
Measure Also Strengthens District’s Ability to Protect Customers’ Rates
LAKEWOOD, Calif., Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Water Replenishment District (WRD) of Southern California is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign into law a measure to enhance WRD’s ability to protect the groundwater supply for one in ten Californians and stem the abuse of pumping groundwater without payment.
“SB 620 will give WRD the flexibility to more cost-effectively manage our financial resources for the benefit of our customers and the destiny of the groundwater resource they use,” said WRD Board of Directors President Rob Katherman.
WRD sponsored SB 620, authored by State Senator Roderick Wright.
“SB 620 will eliminate an outdated statutory limit on how WRD can use its emergency fund,” said WRD General Manager Robb Whitaker. “Removing the language on the use of the unrestricted reserve fund simply reflects the fact that our imported water purchases are declining and gives us the flexibility to meet unanticipated and unbudgeted contingencies that may arise as we move toward 100% local supply.”
WRD is now embarking on an ambitious program to achieve 100 percent water independence. The district currently purchases costly imported water to help replenish the giant underground aquifers that it manages. Water pumped from those aquifers supplies 40 percent of the water used by residents in the 43 cities in WRD’s service area; more than 10% of Californians is served by WRD.
Under its Water Independence Now (WIN) program, WRD’s goal is to obtain 100 percent of its water from recycled water and stormwater. These local sources are cheaper and more reliable than imported water.
SB 620 also establishes a budget advisory committee to review the replenishment assessment and the budget.
“This is not unlike the Audit & Budget Advisory Committee comprised of area stakeholders WRD already has in place to increase financial transparency and public accountability,” President Katherman noted. “The District is consistently recognized for its exceptional finance and budgetary practices and has received more than 19 national and state awards since 2005.”
Lastly, SB 620 allows the prevailing party of an injunction against an entity that does not pay to refill the groundwater basins the ability to recover costs.
“To pump groundwater without paying for its replenishment is a very serious matter that puts an unfair burden on cities that pay and jeopardizes the health of the groundwater basins,” stated President Katherman. “This provision will help prevent cities from charging their customers for water when they do not pay their water fees.”
The Governor has until October 13 to act on SB 620.
SOURCE Water Replenishment District of Southern California