The legislators heard from a panel including both Roger Patterson of the Metropolitan Water Agency (MWD) and Dennis Cushman of the San Diego Water Authority, which is MWD’s largest member agency, buying about a quarter of everything MWD sells.
Cushman raised an issue that we haven’t heard much about yet: What is the real demand for Bay Delta Water, and at what price? He pointed out that MWD needs a guaranteed stream of revenue to meet commitments it makes for a Delta “fix.” But it isn’t clear that all MWD’s member agencies are equally willing to pay for that “fix.” Moreover, they don’t have to buy water from MWD.
Eighty percent of MWD’s revenues come from water sales. MWD’s water rates are up 75% since 2006. So it is no surprise that water sales in Southern California have declined by almost one third since 2008, as local agencies develop other more affordable local strategies for meeting their water needs
Cushman said that MWD needs firm, enforceable take-or-pay contracts with its member agencies.