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Borrego Water District - True or False

Digger - April day, 2018

Dave Duncan is Ratepayer Representative to the Borrego Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee. What follows is a response to his letter in the 8 March edition of the Borrego Sun titled "Borrego Water District - Criticism or Kudos."

Although he has subsequently offered a "clarification" relying on funny semantics and a distinction without a difference, Duncan's statement that "BWD board members are... not paid" remains false. BWD's FY 2018 budget, available online, contains $22,000 for "Directors Stipends and Board Secretary." A "stipend" is "a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services or to defray expenses." So how is it again that directors are not paid?

But wait, there's more.

No one has criticized the BWD board for its efforts to correct BWD's financial situation and fund capital improvement projects. To imply that they have, as Duncan does, is simply to create a straw man to pummel.

Duncan alleges that some letters to the Editor "accuse individual board members of being a part of a secret deal to sell the community down the drain" and are "needlessly personal." The letters, however, merely assert that the agreement reached in the Borrego Water Coalition's secret conclaves with the concurrence of two BWD directors will inevitably do irreparable damage to the community, not that the two directors involved in negotiating the agreement had nefarious motives. The criticism offered in the letters is of the Director's performance qua directors and not, therefore, ad hominem as Duncan mistakenly believes.

It is not accurate to say, as Duncan does, that it was "the commitment and guidance of these same board members" that brought the District "out of [financial] darkness." To do so neglects critical work done by Director Marshall Brecht, a modest, able, and competent CPA. Marshall Brecht ran for the board in 2010 along with Beth Hart and Lyle Brecht as the "Three Who Agree." All three received significant support from folks bearing the same "handful of names" appearing on letters that allegedly "blast" the BWD board (not the agency as a whole as Duncan claims) "for not doing enough to protect the community." All three were elected on the promise that they would put right the District's finances and deal with the overdraft. Marshall Brecht served on the BWD board for only two years and declined to run for a second term. In those two years, however, he did yeoman's work in establishing a foundation for the District's financial recovery and deserves much credit for his "commitment and guidance."

BWD funded only one-half of the USGS study that established the overdraft as fact, not the entire amount as Duncan states.

Duncan's statement that "BWD never had the legal authority to force farmers to do anything" is false as attested to by three separate written legal opinions obtained by the District and available to, but ignored by, the BWD board.

Finally, the "many examples of water adjudications... where cities and municipalities did not come out on the winning side" that Duncan cites are fictitious. He will be hard put to come up with any where the facts are sufficiently similar to those in Borrego even for meaningful comparison never mind predicting the outcome of an adjudication of the Borrego Basin as he suggests.

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