Archived: Southeast Water Reliability Project Means Increased Fees


The recently published editorial piece entitled “Southeast Water Reliability Project Means Regional Sustainability” failed to fully enlighten the readers about the project.

Art Chacon, Director of Division III for the Central Basin Municipal Water District, tries to convince the reader that the $100+ million expansion of the District’s recycled water system will increase the reliability of the local water supply and stimulate the economy.

While substituting potable water with recycled water for irrigation and some industrial uses does reduce the demands on imported surface water and local groundwater supplies, it comes with a heavy burden to those that live and conduct business in the Central Basin MWD service area.

Central Basin MWD serves many disadvantaged communities with customers who can ill-afford to pay water rate hikes which subsidize the construction of the Southeast Water Reliability Project.

What Director Chacon fails to tell the reader is that the project will never pay for itself.

The recycled water rates charged to potential recycled water customers will not cover the cost of construction, even with $5.6 million in federal stimulus funding and $3.5 million in California Proposition 50 funding.  The District has based the potential recycled water system users on inflated estimates. This leaves one source for meeting the District’s financial obligations, those of us that live and operate businesses in the District and pay the water bills. These costs will be tagged on to the cost local water utilities pay to purchase imported water through Central Basin MWD in the form of an administrative surcharge on all wholesale water purchased; thus leaving home and business owners blaming the local retailer for the drastic jump in their water bill.

Director Chacon also omits the fact that many of the potential recycled water customers the District plans to serve are struggling municipalities and schools. Local parks, school playgrounds and open space areas are primary users of recycled water. The connection to this supplemental water supply requires extensive changes in plumbing and the installation of devices that protect the drinking water supply from the recycled water.

The cost of retrofitting these sites would be borne by the communities and school districts that are already cutting services to residents and businesses to maintain a balanced budget.

Local water communities have repeatedly asked the Central Basin Board to rethink this project and postpone the construction until the economic climate in our communities recovers. Expansion of the recycled water system needs to stand in line behind the essential services such as education, police and fire.

Robert C. Fierro is the Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Commerce and a board member on the Southeast Water Coalition, which represents the Cities of Commerce, Cerritos, Downey, Lakewood, Norwalk, Paramount, Pico Rivera, South Gate, Vernon and Whittier.

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1 Comment

  1. Mr. Fierro has NO credibility because he has betrayed the public’s trust by committing campaign fraud and is currently being prosecuted by the FBI.

    He is accused of money laundering and of encouraging others to commit crimes in order to hide the source of the bribes he has received. Read it on this newspaper’s website:

    For these reasons Fierro has NO credibility.

    This letter was written for him by Jason Stinnett who has his own hidden agenda and hates the Chacon clan and will disagree with them even if it means hurting the hard-working people of Commerce.

    We need recycled water in order to conserve our drinking water -plain and simple. What Fierro says here makes no sense and he offers no proof to his figures and negative statements.

    Mr. soon to be convict Fierro needs to resign from office and save his family and the citizen of Commerce from further embarrassment.

    -Juan Rivas

    P.S. I don’t like the Chacon’s either but the Central Basin has 5 directors who have at least half a brain. Dummy Art Chacon is only but ONE vote.

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