For Immediate Release: 2/15/17
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, [email protected]
GM Kightlinger says Oroville Dam repair is CA Taxpayer responsibility
Stockton, CA – Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s outsized influence on California water management has become very clear this week. Metropolitan Water District’s General Manager Jeff Kightlinger held closed door committee meetings on Tuesday to discuss leasing some of MWD’s recently purchased Delta islands back to the original owners, Semitropic Water Agency. We assume this is in order to make their $175 million Delta island investment more profitable. The San Diego County Water Authority this week expressed “serious concern” that this closed door session would violate the open meeting requirements of the Brown Act.
Nearly 200,000 evacuees are returning home, but will be under an evacuation warning, due to erosion at Oroville Dam Spillway. Meanwhile, downstream and Delta communities brace for large additional inflows from Oroville that could contribute to floods within their communities.
Kightlinger claimed on Monday that Metropolitan did not object in 2005 to making a financial contribution to upgrading and repairing the Oroville Spillway. This claim was quickly shot down by Ron Stork of Friends of the River. “They never put it in writing, but it was common knowledge among the water community 12 years ago — DWR, local water agencies, consultants — that they didn’t want to pay the cost,” Stork said.
The MercuryNews continues…
Asked if he would support armoring the emergency spillway now, Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District, sidestepped the issue.
“I would defer to DWR working with the Army Corps to what is the appropriate safety standard, and then we’ll worry about the costs later,” he said, adding: “Flood control is a public benefit that is usually paid for by the state.”
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta said:
“It is incredible that MWD could spend $175 million on purchasing Delta islands in 2016 and is holding secret sessions on how to make these islands profitable while pushing forward on the Delta Tunnels. Now Mr. Kightlinger claims MWD doesn’t have any financial responsibility for needed repairs at Oroville. Even if the State, as owner of the facility, is ultimately responsible for repairs, Metropolitan’s cavalier attitude toward the people of the Oroville region and the Delta speaks volumes of how they see the rest of the state — a water supply colony.
“Metropolitan’s own advocacy to make no financial contribution in 2005 has led to them damaging their own 2017 water supply, harming public safety for 200,000 people, and creating stress on state resources as repairs are presently estimated at $100 to $200 million dollars for the spillway. It is our sincere hope that the good people of Southern California begin to demand financial accountability from Metropolitan Water District management. Their water future, as well as the future of Northern California communities depends on it.
“We call on the Brown Administration to remember that the Department of Water Resources serves the entire state, not just the outsized influence of the Metropolitan Water District. Not one additional penny should be spent on CA WaterFix until the Oroville Dam Spillway, and California’s 678 high hazard dams are inspected and repaired.”