Our local water is still a good bargain


While the Legislature battles it out in Sacramento over a pair of competing water bonds for the November ballot, consumers are left to wonder if they will have anything to drink at all this summer.

Of course they will.

Adequate supplies will continue to flow from the Bay Delta in the north, and our wellmanaged local reservoir and water delivery system will make sure the end user never has to go without. Customers remain in good hands.

But the fight over limited supplies due to the drought—and the prospect that water conveyance from the north will become more costly—obviously means that higher bills are on their way.

In the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD), customers are already paying a pretty price.

By way of background, a holdover water bond from 2009 and a new bond being debated this week both seek to improve the ecosystem of the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. According to Sen. Fran Pavley, the environmental and water resources expert from Agoura Hills, the older bond has become out of touch with today’s home, business and agricultural needs. But a replacement bond that includes billions of dollars for new storage, dams and other drought-response projects faces stiff opposition, too. Many at the state Capitol are fearful about too much pork being folded into the 2014 replacement bond.

No matter how the water bonds play out, everyone’s bills are going up. In the world of economics, scarce resources always cost more. But as LVMWD begins a third straight year of rate increases (see story on page 1), we wondered if those costs are truly onerous, as many like to complain. One would think, for example, that the unit cost of water in a moist environment such as Oregon or Washington would be far less than it is in the thirsty Conejo/Las Virgenes Valley. But according to comparative studies, it is not.

How can that be?

How can drought– ridden Southern California provide water to the tap at a price that’s on par with other states where there is water, water everywhere?

The answer mostly lies in the ability of our state agencies and local districts to deliver water in a very technologically advanced, highly efficient manner.

The California Aqueduct conveyance system is truly an engineering marvel. And locally, the pumps, pipes and reservoirs are kept in top-notch condition with repair and replacement financing always in place. Other states can’t always brag about these kinds of efficiencies, but we can.

Water isn’t cheap, but the situation could be a lot worse. (And yes, we’ll drink to that.)

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