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April 23, 2021

Say ‘No’ to water merger

By Bill Smallman

The Lompico County Water District and San Lorenzo Valley Water District merger was a win-win move. LCWD’s improvements would get done, and SLVWD gained 500 customers. The Felton merger was also a great achievement. The main reason is the intimate relationship between the district and the unique ecosystem of the San Lorenzo Valley. It demanded to be governed by a single, publicly owned, district.

I understand the possible SLVWD and Scotts Valley Water District merger would cut overhead costs, but it must be stopped in its tracks because of the ‘Elephant in the Room’: we do not have a sustainable water supply. With the continued development in Scotts Valley, including the addition of the Town Center Project, we are headed for disaster. SLVWD must avoid that mess.

I’d be in favor of having one big district, like Marin County, but that is never going to happen.  What we really need to do is create a district like the Santa Clara Valley Water District, a united Santa Cruz County Water District. Moreover, a huge majority will reject the merger. Scotts Valley residents are not going to allow Rick Rogers to dragoon them to pay for CZU fire repairs. The overhead he is talking about saving is around 10%, around $500K per year, less than $100 per family, per year. Not sure about you, but I gladly will spend this amount for all the reasons I mention. The SLVWD water services for families who live in Scotts Valley, should be sold to SVWD, and the money used for CZU repairs.

I’ve read the, “Urban Water Management Plans” during my tenure, and they are useless documents. I urge you to read them. It’s common for the government to waste millions on studies and consultants. SLVWD does not qualify as an “Urban” area, but Scotts Valley is. We need to keep our focus on fixing our infrastructure. What I was really pushing for is the top line design-build department. I estimated it would save up to $300 per ratepayer, or $2.4 million, per year, put towards more improvements.

Are you sick of worrying about water shortages, saltwater intrusion, power outages, fire danger, and having this Groundwater Agency doing absolutely nothing effective? Sustainability by 2042? Most of us will be dead by then. Designs for sustainability in this op-ed can be constructed in 2-3 years.

I suffered a great deal of hardship, too lengthy to describe here, from serving as your director. To be honest, I feel like I flew out of the Cuckoo’s Nest. But now I’m back, and my writing skills are stronger than ever. Last year I composed and applied for a measure, to simply to allow the people to vote on whether or not to allow the Regional Transportation Commission to spend over $1 Billion of the people’s money on a train, for ridership of a tiny minority. These people would be far more effectively served by an improved bus system, and other new advancements in technology. The pandemic prohibited the signature gathering.

The $1 Billion, would easily pay for both my, “Recycled Water,” and, “Storm Aquarries,” plans.  The Santa Cruz County Water District would be fully capable of actually managing watersheds, open space, reservoirs, recycled water, forest management, flood and fire protection and groundwater. They would be primarily funded by wholesale water. Do you want your money spent on studying problems, or solving them?

Bill Smallman is a former member of the SLVWD and LCWD Board of Directors. His views are his own and not necessarily those of the Press Banner.