Why This Blog?

The aim of this blog is to fit into the blogosphere like the bracingly tart taste of yogurt fits between the boringly bland and the unspeakably vile.

All comments will be answered if their author provides contact info.


I have no sponsoring group(s) or agencies, and I owe no allegiance to any candidate or group.

(C) Copyright 2012 DenRita Enterprises

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Water boarding mis-information

A director for Mesa Water District discussed some misinformation about the district in a talk Tuesday evening. Shawn Dewane addressed partially and completely wrong information that is appearing as newspaper commentary or as snide innuendos on blogs.

The explanations he gave were believable and clear. However, we haven’t confirmed his assertions yet, so this information is tentative.

Reaching goals

First of all, the board set goals a few years ago; a five-year plan. Two goals were an AAA Bond rating and a completely independent water supply for Costa Mesa.

The directors included a very conservative approach to pricing: no one should tell a Costa Mesa resident how much water she was allowed to purchase. Limiting water purchase through “tiered pricing” essentially sets limits on how much water “should” be purchased.

Social engineering through tiered prices

In order to set “fair” trigger points for increases in unit cost, buyers elsewhere are required to file information with their boards giving the number of residents in their house, the relationships of the residents, and other demographics. Then an allocation is set for their household; using more water than the allocation triggers a price increase for all water purchased.

That’s loss of privacy, denial of the freedom to purchase what the buyer wants and an arrogant assumption by a quasi-governmental agency that they know what “the right amount” of water use is. Does it work? Mostly no.

Costs more, in fact

In fact, with special discounts for special purchasers – think golf courses and farms – the cost per home resident actually goes up. And, if forced price increases aren't enough to stifle guerrilla car washing and other evils, folks can be cited and even fined. They pay a fine for watering their lawn on the “wrong” days.

Use less, pay more 

Most of water’s costs are fixed. That is, paying for the water plant, the pipes, and the overall maintenance will use the same amount of money regardless of usage. When usage goes down, the price per unit will go up so that the fixed expenses can be met.

In Costa Mesa, if you use more water, you pay more, at the same rate. It’s just like buying gasoline. If you value your flowers more than your dollars, you are free to make that choice. And the Board does not require you to list household residents, or limit what you do with water.

So, as some pundits preach, Costa Mesa indeed refuses to institute a tiered system. Instead, our water is treated as a commodity instead of as a tool for social engineering. In short, it’s a good thing.

Savings account too big, the sky is falling

The Water District is also saving up a lot of money, as the conspiracy believers complain. Who knows what they’re up to? Maybe they want to sell the district to their friends (through a no-bid contract, no doubt). Maybe they’re consolidating power to take over City Government – or worse, to give to City government.

The AAA bond rating requires that enough money be on hand to pay all expected bills for at least 600 days with no income. The AAA bonds are much cheaper for taxpayers over their long periods of payback.

This is important when considering the half-billion or so dollars buried as water pipes that will be replaced over time. It’s also crucial in planning for natural disasters; we need to be able to repair the damaged infrastructure quickly to avoid social calamity. (Water wars, with bullets, are common when the water supply fails. So far that’s endemic to some Third World nations, not to California.) AAA bond eligibility will get our water flowing while water districts with A ratings, which is where we started, are still looking for funding.

Self-sufficient in water

The colored water processing plant completed the Board’s goal of 100% self-sufficiency. Costa Mesa does not now buy water from anywhere; we draw our own from the ground. And, that will be true for the next hundred years.

Expensive business cards and signs 

Shawn also addressed the “half million dollars” for public relations and the “expensive re-branding.”

A half-million dollars was budgeted to be used as needed for informing the public about their water district. It is our property, after all, so we should know something about it. During the next (nearly) five years about $200,000 of that was spent.

When enough business cards needed to be reordered, and enough signs needed repair, the project was started with a “ re-branding” effort. A new logo was designed, for about $20,000, and printed on the new supply of cards. It was added to the signs that replaced those with falling letters, corrosion, and cracks.

Fight the social engineers

The PR folks also keep the Board informed of legislative matters that are important to Costa Mesa.

For example, a state-appointed bureaucrat decreed that certain State fund allocations would only go to systems with tiered pricing because “that encourages responsible usage.” Our board fought her efforts at social engineering, but wouldn't have known about her ploy in time without a heads up from their PR people.

So much good stuff, but . . . 

So, we have a pure, hundred-year water supply and some of the most efficient operations (expense per employee, expense per subscriber, etc., etc.) We have a AAA bond rating which will help us replace old pipes and survive disasters as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

What’s behind the complaints? We don’t know, but we've noted that, according to Dewane, very few citizens ever attend Board meetings. “Just a few activists against everything, maybe a union official or two.”

Taking a look

We’ll attend a few Water District Board meetings. Maybe the “activists” we'll see are the naysayers of City Council meeting infamy. You know, the ones who assure us over and over of the deceit, perfidy and duplicity of Council members – with no evidence, just speculation and innuendo

Or maybe these people don’t attend Water Board meetings since there’s no TV exposure for their nonsense. Maybe we'll meet a new crop of naysayers. We’ll see.


  1. I also attended this meeting. You provided a very good synopsis of what happened. I found Shawn to be extremely knowledgeable and open about all affairs. My only thought is the very high salaries for Mesa Water District employees. Just like Costa Mesa city staff, we citizens are too generous with our tax dollars. If there was more time, I would have liked to hear more about that issue.

    Me thinks you should run for some public next year. What do you think?

  2. Thanks, I'll keep that in mind as I visit their BOD meetings. No.