POLITICS/WATER: Metropolitan Water District, rising water bills, maintenance and repair, "costly war with nature and age"; Sacramento area water district, questions regarding $415,000 billing by district's general counsel, equal to 28 percent of the district's annual budget of $1.5 million....
* Sacramento Bee: "Sacramento water district counsel's costs raise questions" - From the Bee:
A tiny suburban Sacramento water district paid its general counsel $415,000 last year, leading some board members to question his bills. Payments to Ravi Mehta amount to 28 percent of the Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District's annual budget of $1.5 million. That's not a small amount in a district where auditors have repeatedly questioned its future financial viability. The district had to raise rates 37 percent last year to make long-overdue capital improvements.
Mehta was paid $69,000 last year for filling in as a general manager at the district, and $347,000 for his legal work, records show. Of his legal bills, more than half are attributed "general legal services" and the rest are attributed to various cases.
A former head of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, Mehta has previously had his ethics questioned. In 2001, after leaving the commission, Mehta agreed to pay the FPPC a $23,000 fine for, among other things, misusing campaign funds to refurbish his Porsche...........
* Los Angeles Times (Michael Hiltzik column): "Metropolitan Water District wages costly war with nature and age" - "Increasingly frequent shutdowns of the Colorado River Aqueduct for maintenance and repair are the biggest drivers of rising water bills in Southern California." - From the LAT:
. . . . . . Key fact: It's not the H2O, which accounts for only about one-fifth of the bill. The water service bill of the average Southern California family of four will include about $34 a month in MWD charges, not including add-on fees charged by its local water district; of that, about $7 is the cost of the water itself. "The repair and replacement of our aging infrastructure is probably the No. 1 driver of our rates," says MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. . . . . .
In the 1990s, the MWD says, the huge water district's annual average capital budget of about $500 million included perhaps $30 million for maintenance. The rest went to expanding facilities to manage growth and provide storage, including the construction of Diamond Valley Lake reservoir near Hemet.
Over the next two years, the capital budget will average about $275 million a year, but as much as 60% will cover maintenance and repair of infrastructure that includes the Colorado aqueduct, begun in 1933, and the MWD's share of similar costs incurred by the State Water Project, which carries water from Northern California.................