Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “MID’s proposed water sale”

Joan Rutschow Addressing The MID Board of Directors


Contracts (Photo credit: NobMouse)

By Joan Rutschow of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association

Good morning, MID Board and ratepayers and voters.  I would like to address the water contract.

The water sale contract puts San Francisco in 1st position ahead of Modesto residents and farmers.

MID would have no “out” on the contract for 50 years unless San Francisco defaults.  San Francisco can terminate the deal in any year by deciding not to allocate funds.  Very simply, the contract ties up our water for 50 years, giving San Francisco priority over Modesto.  San Francisco would be entitled to the full contract amount even if MID cuts deliveries to Modesto and our farmers due to drought or any other unforseen reason. 

Bee Article (6-16-12), “San Francisco cannot agree to a water sale contract that gives preference to Modesto!”  MID is agreeing to sell water we might not have!  Suggesting that we have excess water to sell, MID management has increased the risks that we will face onerous bypass flow regulations under our new FERC license and jeopardize our ability to meet local needs.  San Francisco understands this and can terminate the agreement if they cannot live with the bypass requirements.  There is no similar right to terminate by MID!!!  MID will be solely responsible for all costs, compliance with all laws, agreements with all third parties.  The agreement shifts all risk, liability and compliance with laws onto the MID ratepayer.  This entire contract stinks to high heaven! 

Question – what caused this gigantic mess?  A long list of poor policies and poor decisions by management and directors!  Let me count the ways:

1.  $1.3 billion debt (Editorial in  Modesto Bee, 6-6-12 – Ed Bearden)

2.  Phase 2 treatment plant failures

3.  Significant deterioration of MID’s balance sheet during past ten years (Editorial in Modesto Bee, 5-17-12, Jeff Burda –  unfunded pension obligations of $60 million (2010), unfunded health care obligations – $66 million)

4.  Unprecedented increase in electric rates, reversing our competitive advantage for job creation

5.  Recent settlement of the biomass lawsuit for $1.2 million

MID management has put the rate payers and farmers into a deep financial hole.  Unfortunately, MID is willing to sacrifice our economic lives for its immediate financial needs.

Selling our water is NOT a good idea.  It is a disaster.  It violates Modesto’s contract with MID from 2005 to supply Modesto with 30 – 36 million gallons per day of treated Tuolumne River water.  MID is trying to break that contract.

Yes to food, yes to jobs, yes to life, because water = food = jobs = life itself.

NO to selling our precious resource (our water) to San Francisco!


Where is Assistant City Attorney Rollie Stevens?

By Emerson Drake

While it doesn’t have the same connotations as asking “Who’s John Galt?” , “Where is Rollie Stevens?” should make people stop and think.  Rollie Stevens was Modesto’s  Attorney negotiating the water contract between the City of Modesto and the Modesto Irrigation District back in 2005.  This contract spells out the fact that Modesto and the Farmers stand first in line for OUR/MID water.  MID has demanded and Mayor Marsh has acquiesced to, Rollie Stevens absence at any talks between MID and Modesto.  Why?  Because MID knows Mr. Stevens is the most knowledgable  individual on the city staff regarding this contract which is vital to Modesto’s long-term BEST interests.

MID is supposed to be owned by the ratepayers but over the years, we ignored the MID Board and allowed the Board to spend/waste Millions of dollars unchecked, and at an ever-increasing rate.  In recent years the public exposed several of their ill-fated ventures.  One was the TANC project that the MID General Manager led, and despite public outcry against it, the proposal was curtailed only when (SMUD), Sacramento Municipal Utilities District came to their senses and pulled out of the monstrosity of overspending  that General Manager Short had helped to create. The cost to MID was approximately $5 million dollars.  The second was the Bio-Mass/ Garbage burner Project of Stephen Endsley.  After discovering how badly they were being duped by Endsley and MID, the MID ratepayers rebelled and finally MID pulled out of the garbage burner business.  The cost to ratepayers was $1.2 Million plus MID Attorney Tim O’Laughlin pocketed a cool $92,000.00 for this project alone.  This was despite being assured by attorney O’Laughlin that MID had no exposure to litigation. It seems it’s all a mater of perspective with O’Laughlin, who lives in Chico,  and doesn’t buy water or electricity from MID.

Now MID is pretending the small sale of 2,240 acre feet isn’t important, but as always the devil is in the details.  And the details here which bear importance are;  if the contract is signed, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will be first in line for any MID water for the next fifty years, yes before Modesto and the Farmers, and has first right of refusal over any potential water sales MID might care to make.  The contract also sets a price for future water sales which includes an extremely small price escalator.

Just as important and maybe even more so because of its size is the looming 25,000 acre foot sale.  MID intends on pursuing it immediately after the 2,240 sale, so both sales should be considered at the same time by ratepayers trying to make a decision.  We also need to consider the small sale doesn’t pay for anything. The 2,240 acre feet times the $700.00 per acre foot comes to $1,568,000. yearly.  At this rate it will take 70.79 tears to pay for the $110 Million in infrastructure the MID Board claims we need.  And yes, the much larger sale triggers an EIR or Environmental Impact Report but with the SFPUC  footing the cost and being the lead agency, stopping it at that point is a much harder task than most realize.

Now back to the initial question of  “Where is Rollie Stevens.”  To use a sports metaphor,  it’s like playing a Superbowl and having our coach decide to bench our all-pro quarterback or 2,000 yard running back because the other team doesn’t want to play against him.  Why would we concede to those conditions?

This is the $64,000 question we need to ask Mayor Marsh. 

So Mayor, why are you keeping Rollie Stevens on the sidelines? 

Modesto and the farmers need to stand shoulder to shoulder on the water sale issue.  Agriculture is the economic driving force in the Central Valley and we need to nurture it.  And as we all  know,  if you want to keep something alive in the Central Valley, you need to water it.

We have NO extra water for sale to San Francisco.

Rollie Stevens, we need you.

The SFPUC Thumbs Their Nose at the Tuolumne River Trust’s Concerns

English: Tuolumne River in West Modesto-Riverd...

English: Tuolumne River in West Modesto-Riverdale Park area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

It appears as of this moment the City of Modesto’s threatened lawsuit currently has the best chance to stop the MID’s sale/giveaway of our water.  I’ll be making a request Monday to  Mayor Marsh to provide an update Tuesday night at the City Council meeting. 

Reed Smith was good  to provide the following pdf from the Tuolumne River Trust.


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