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Op–Ed by Ojai Councilman William Weirick: CMWD should obtain water experts for water suit

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This is a statement read into the record at the Casitas Municipal Water District meeting Sept. 8 on the subject of agenda item 11(a), addressed by the CMWD Board members in closed session.

By William Weirick

As every member of this Casitas Municipal Water District Board knows, Sept. 24 is the deadline for various key parties, including CMWD, to disclose any experts retained and related expert opinions/reports regarding the core issue of relevant connectivity between groundwater and surface waters in four separate groundwater basins.

 

The degree of connectivity is a matter of discoverable hydrological facts with fi ndings hopefully based on the preponderance of evidence. This goal of arriving at valid findings is best served by all parties with vital interests engaging in the process through experts they have designated or support.

The CMWD — especially since assuming operational responsibility for the former Golden State Water Co. — provides water conjunctively from both surface and groundwater sources. The ratepayers of the Community Facilities District assessed themselves a parcel tax to enable a buyout and to finance renovations to bring water resources under greater public interest accountability. Those same ratepayers are also now paying an adjudication fee to the CMWD in addition to this parcel tax.

These ratepayers have every right to expect the CMWD to represent their vital interests.

Serving those vital interests is certainly best accomplished by participating in advancing the accuracy and volume of all available evidence as to the connectivity issue. This is especially true given that CMWD is the largest de-facto responsible party for the joint utilization of surface and groundwater storage in the Ojai Valley.

That fact certainly suggests that ratepayers in the Ojai Valley generally — and most especially those in the Community Facilities District who have specifically entrusted the CMWD to operate the assets of the former Golden State Water Co. — have a reasonable expectation that the CMWD will support the effort to arrive at the most scientifi cally accurate conclusion on connectivity.

This can be done either by working with other parties supporting appropriate experts or by CMWD designating its own experts. Scientific accuracy is not a matter of neutrality; it is a goal to be pursued and meaningfully supported. In this case, scientifi c accuracy is a necessary foundation for outcomes best serving the public interest. I encourage Board members to participate in this process by considering options for obtaining or supporting experts providing critical, accurate information.

— William Weirick is an Ojai city councilman, but he said he made these comments as an individual, not as a councilman.

 

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