Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) Leaves Ratepayers High and Dry: Cancels Monthly Board Meeting

  •  As public opposition to the Water District’s costly, corrupt and catastrophic Cadiz Water Project grows, the SMWD decided to cancel its monthly board meeting
  •  Instead of holding the board meeting and answering ratepayers’ questions about why their water rates will increase by as much as 35 percent, the board has decided to hide from scrutiny
  •  Rather than answer to ratepayers, General Manager John Schatz sent out an e-mail to ratepayers saying their water rates would be protected; Mr. Schatz fails to explain how expensive water from Cadiz won’t raise rates

Rancho Santa margarita, CA., Jun. 26, 2012 – As public opposition to the SMWD’s costly, corrupt and catastrophic Cadiz Water Project has been growing over the past couple of weeks, the District’s response has been to hide from public scrutiny, not embrace it. Taxpayers and ratepayers in the SMWD are concerned that this project will raise water rates by as much as 35 percent, and harm protected Mojave Desert habitats. Many were planning to attend the District’s next Board meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 – the District’s only Board meeting this month – to voice their strong opposition to the project. However, instead of holding the meeting and addressing ratepayers’ concerns, the Board of Directors in an unprecedented move, actually cancelled the meeting.

“It’s outrageous that our elected Water Board would rather cancel its monthly meeting than hear ratepayers voice concerns and opposition to the Cadiz project,” said John McClendon with Citizens for Responsible Water Policies. “Actions like this only add to the district’s growing reputation for backroom deals. The Board is already accused of meeting in secret to consider the project in violation of the state’s open meeting laws and failing to take into account the full costs of purchasing water from Cadiz. Now that we ratepayers are paying attention to this failed process the Board goes and creates even more secrecy. As the elected directors of a public utility, they need to remember that they answer to the ratepayers of South Orange County and not the owners of a private water company in San Bernardino County.”

To learn more about Citizens for Responsible Water Policies, the history of the project and the other ways in which the SMWD has kept ratepayers in the dark, please visit our website.