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BLOG: "Clearing the Water" — Transparency, Rates and Plant Progress

The city manager’s weekly report this week came out with a lot of data for those concerned about water rates and the water plant.

The City Manager’s weekly report (link) this week came out with a lot of data for those concerned about water rates and the water plant. This is a good step in the effort to give rate payers information about what would be the costs associated with going to completely imported water.

Rate Comparisons - True rate comparisons with other cities have been mired by the differences in the way San Juan Capistrano bills and how other cities assess some water and sewer costs to property tax bills. This is still a concern going forward and I expect will be a source of confusion.

Much work is still left to be done, like a new rate study, but I am encouraged by all these developments, and I think this is good progress from the conversations and questioning by many concerned residents, heard by the City Council, Commissions and City Staff.

Plant Ownership - The city is also working on correcting the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan wording which reasserts our water rights to 5800 AFY and extending our lease for the next 102 years, to match our 2002 lease agreement with the San Juan Basin Authority.

Going Forward - We don’t know what problems or successes the plant will go through, and I do think that there still is an argument to be made to partner with local cities to tackle the costs and benefits of local water production. But these latest figures help to make a better business case for us all to support this plant.

We must keep a level head moving forward. For example, the city’s GWRP yearly goal of 4545AF is too ambitious. To reach this goal now, the GWRP would need to produce about 420AF a month for the next 8 months! This goal should be retargeted to an attainable volume. The plant has never produced more than 378AF in a month (October 2011).

Recently the Council has approved $5 million in grants to expand the plant and further develop other important water projects around town. My belief is that this will have a beneficial impact on rates, but it is unknown, and I would have liked this to have been examined. My hope is that whoever is elected will keep the ratepayers forefront in their minds, looking at how changes to the plant may affect us in the future.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lon Uso November 04, 2012 at 07:32 PM
What a breath of fresh air my friend. This is the difference between someone looking to solve a problem and those that want to make problems to get elected. Like I said Tom, whichever way it goes on Tuesday, stay involved. Sooner or later the people will recognize what you have to offer, a clear and level head.
Eric Bergstrom November 05, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Tom, I have seen you grow so much since I first met you back in the early summer. As Lon said, stay involved no matter what. Our town needs good people who care and are willing to roll up their sleeves.
Frank E. November 05, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Thank you Tom. Can't wait for Clint Worthington and "Kim" to bash the City some more.
Clint Worthington November 05, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Frank E., thank you. I am sure Frank E. that you are able to explain where I am wrong?
Clint Worthington November 05, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Lon, you along with Sam Allevato voted for each and every rate increase in front that was placed in front of you. A number of the problems that our City is having, are the result of decisions that you made during the four years you were on the City Council.
Lon Uso November 05, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Well Clint, let's start with the fact that I have said many times that I am proud for having had the courage to raise rates as it was necessary to keep the water flowing in the City. Sam had previously been on the Council for many years and did not raise rates once. Mark and I convinced him with the facts that the water enterprise was broke and needed revenue to pay its bills. The one Council Member that disagreed with the rate increases was Soto. He, in fact, made a statement that " he would not put that burden on the rate payers", a theme that guided those previous Councils for almost two decades. So I guess that You, Kim and Roy should have asked Joe Soto to run with you since you have a similar water policy. Of course the facts are that it is the rate payers responsibility to pay for both the water and the infrastructure to deliver it. If not, who should pay those costs? Dana point? Mission Viejo? You have made it clear that your candidates refuse to pledge that they will lower water rates, which is a good thing, because they can't. But it becomes tiresome to hear you criticize the people that put their political future on the line to do something controversial and distasteful in order to fix a broken system when you and your cabal have no realistic solutions.
Jonathan Volzke November 05, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Clint - Can't you let anyone pass by with a smile on their face? A woman writes how thankful she is to the city because it helped create her first home. You jump in about taxpayers, blah blah blah. And now Tom, new the process (and hopefully not the sort to be scared off by you and your lot) posts some of his learnings and experiences and you have to jump on it, too. You're like Chicken Little.
Frank E. November 05, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Communities need activist. However, I have yet to read one comment from Clint Worthington where he isn't attacking a the current Council (ah, but Mr. Reeve) former member of City Council, City Staff, City Commissions or otherwise looking for the negative in this town. Oh, once he told Matt Gaffney that he was right.
Clint Worthington November 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Lon, again, take the time to read the lawsuit and the first amended complaint. The answers to your statements are in the lawsuit. As for the infrastructure, please tell me the infrastructure improvements that were to be made? At the April 2011 Utility Commission meeting, the GWRP was to be pumping 7.2 millions gallons a day (page 4, 3/4 down the page). Now a 1 1/2 years later, we are lucky to be pumping half that amount on a daily basis when the plant is running. The pumps and wells continue to fail prematurely. The GAC and greensand filters fail even quicker due to the murky water that is pumped up. If you doubt what I am saying, be brave and read the Utility Commission reports for yourself.
Clint Worthington November 06, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Jonathan, of course there is not an ulterior motive by you is there? Doesnt Fauble and Associates (your employer) represent as a client, Poseiden (sp) who is looking to put in desal. plants? You have the quite the motive to put me down anyway that you can. I understand. I am just a resident trying to look out for our City, and you are the paid lobbyist. I know, I know, you are going to say Poseiden is not one of your specific clients. I cannot see you speaking out publicly against one of your employers clients, can you?
Clint Worthington November 06, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Frank E., I asked you earlier to please tell me where I am wrong? You may not like the way I deliver what I say, but the bottom line is, please tell me where I am wrong?
Jonathan Volzke November 09, 2012 at 07:34 AM
Clint, I can tell you where you're wrong: Poseidon has absolutely no interest in San Juan Capistrano's politics or GWRP. You're not "just a resident." You're on the editorial board of a monthly newsletter that has supported five different candidates for city council over the last two elections. You're as much a lobbyist as I am. The only motive I have to put you down is because I'm a resident who disagrees with you.
Clint Worthington November 09, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Jonathan, however, your firm does represent Poseidon, so your firm does have a vested interest. As for being on a editorial board, it is a volunteer position that I receive no compensation for. In fact, there are extremely few adds. Now, the Dispatch was a position that you received compensation for, in addition you had advertisements in the paper. He size of that I am sure that there may have been some bias in your selection of candidates that you backed. I did not have that bias as it is a volunteer position with extremely few adds. I don't have the power to be a lobbyist. I don't have any money behind me. I am just a resident who cares about our city and the direction it has been going in.

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