Monday, April 06, 2009

"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to share." (HBMWD meeting)

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District had a special meeting today to address utilization of the Industrial water system and the District's water rights. The goal of the meeting was for a broader planning effort to ensure the District can continue to provide reliable, cost-effective water to wholesale customers and the community.

It was essentially an interview for water attorney David Aladjem through a question/answer forum on Water Resources Planning (WRP). Mr. Aladjem gave some of his history with water law. It was quite extensive in the Valley and Southern California area. He seemed to really know his subject matter and he pointed out that there are very few experts in water law. He explained there were two stages for WRP: 1. Advisory Committee Vision and 2. Decision Process. He then started to talk about "Water Transfer." That's right, the moving of water out of the area and the impediments involved.

Director Tera Prucha asked about EIR problems and if one year plans were best or what has happened in the past. "Can state take over water?" She also wanted to know how to safeguard limited amounts.

Chairwoman Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap asked the question, "How do we defend our water rights?" Mr. Aladjem pointed out a law that was established that protects the "Area of Origin's" water rights after Los Angeles sucked Mono Lake almost dry, and that they can only sell a "surplus" of their water. But he also said this is superseded by an act of the Governor forcing take over of the water through the, "Emergency Service Act."

Director Bruce Rupp asked Mr. Aladjem how he was personally perceived by the "environmental world." Mr. Aladjem gave an answer that seemed to imply neither hot nor cold, but upfront with facts. (Some of his projects seemed to lean toward the environment) Director Rupp also was sceptical of someone paying capital costs for a project that would be held to a one year lease.

It was interesting when Director Aldaron Laird asked about the expediency of licensing the water, and what time frame he recommended. Mr. Aladjem asked if he could speak of that later after the public meeting ended. Kaitlin would have none of that and let the lawyer know they were bound to the public and all must be disclosed in public. Aldaron pointed out the conception of "60 million gallons" of surplus water that is not being used industrial and how that will, in fact, affect "flow changes." Aldaron aslo touched on needing a "Water Availability Analysis" and what to do with potential "Blue Lake Rancheria" water rights.

Overall, I think the board did a good job in grilling the potential water law attorney. I hope they decide to hire him for counseling through the process they decide to go.

"Will that be one 1,000 gallon water bag or two?"

"It is not if they are coming for the water, it is when are they?" (Quoting Tera Prucha while she campaigned for the Director seat.)


Anonymous said...

Reading the front page of the SF Chronicle on Saturday about the drought makes me think So Cal will come after the water sooner.

Anonymous said...

I paid nearly $67 last bill. I wasn't even home for a week out of the month! No leaks, no green lawn, and I'm pretty short in the shower time. Oh, and I live alone! So I'm guessing that a family of four or five is paying 100+ per month?? Or is it a mistake? I am used to paying <$35

Anonymous said...

$72 a month in Manila! More than they pay in Sonoma County! Can it get worse.

Anonymous said...

9:24 the ansewr is a resounding YES.

Anonymous said...

If the water board sells some of our surplus water then that might help off set some of the increases in water rates with the loss of the pulp mill.

Anonymous said...

Once you start giving or selling your water to an area that is dependent on it you don't get it back. If the pulp mill were ever to open and we have sent our water South, then what would they use? What about any other business that would use water?

I don't like the idea of all of our water rates increasing, but we have been underwritten for years by the pulp mills who paid a large share of the filtration plant and the various upgrades and repairs for all of us that use "drinking water".

samoasoftball said...

Even if the pulp mill were to open, they would use around 30 million gallons. That still leaves 30 million gallons as surplus.

Anonymous said...

It's funny in a sad way that water bagging is now a very real possibility.

Any other suggestions?

$60-$80 per month is not sustainable. We're not even talking about upgrading the system. Just keeping what we have.

Anonymous said...

"Even if the pulp mill were to open, they would use around 30 million gallons."

With the new process it would be more like 3 million.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the mill will ever re-open. We need to at least explore other opportunities

Anonymous said...


For the record, the pulp mill consumes 15 million gallons of water per day. The pulp mill water cost is $67/acre foot. The average water cost for Nor Cal agriculture is $35/acre foot. In So Cal water cost ranges from $65/acre foot to $300/acre foot.