Metropolitan Water District CEO welcomes state's renewed willingness to help save transferred water

June 17, 2003
The Metropolitan Water District CEO welcomed California's help in finding a place to store 100,000 acre-feet of water after it had originally announced its plans to spill the water.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., June 17, 2003 -- Responding to a June 13 letter sent by California Gov. Gray Davis to Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley, pledging the state's "full cooperation" in Raley's offer to store 100,000 acre-feet of Metropolitan water in federal reservoirs after the Davis administration had earlier announced its intention to "spill" the water, Ronald R. Gastelum, president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issued the following statement:

"Metropolitan welcomes the state administration's willingness to cooperate in assuring that 100,000 acre-feet of water offered in good faith by Northern California water districts and purchased for the residents of Southern California not be wasted.

"The lesson in this week's events is that waste in one part of California is perceived as waste in all of California by other Colorado River Basin states and the federal government. This would undermine the state's credibility in reaching a Colorado River solution. No one, north or south, supports waste. We also look forward to the resumption of talks on the Colorado River on Monday, June 16, 2003.

"We want to be clear that the imperative is to prevent waste of water, and not that Southern California is facing water shortages. We have enough supplies to take the time to forge the best long-term agreement for all concerned. Fortunately, this is not an energy crisis-type situation."

Disappointed with the San Diego County Water Authority's position supporting the state's decision to let 30 billion gallons of drinking water intended for Southern California flow into the Pacific Ocean, Metropolitan Chairman Phillip J. Pace had asked Bernie Rhinerson, chairman of the Water Authority's board of directors, to reconsider the stance.

In a May 28 letter, Thomas Hannigan, then-director of the state Department of Water Resources, stated Metropolitan could store the 100,000 acre-feet of water remaining from the Sacramento Valley transfer in state reservoirs, including Lake Oroville, located north of Sacramento. Earlier this week, however, state officials confirmed that the state had reversed its decision and would not store urban Southern California's water because reservoirs along the state water system were full.

In response, Bennett Raley, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, stated in a letter to Gov. Gray Davis that the federal government would consider storing urban Southern California's water in federal reservoirs, including Lake Shasta, near Redding.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other water-management programs.

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