YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Hey, we want more than one thin dime

By From page A2 | July 25, 2014

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T … earlier this week, when UC Davis exercised its option to siphon away 1.8 million gallons a day of the city of Davis’ share of Sacramento River water, we were told it was a great day for Davis ratepayers because the campus was forking over $20 million for all that water … at some point, we were told, all those millions would trickle through the new water rate structure, lowering bills all over town …

Then yesterday, according to Enterprise ace Elizabeth Case, “Herb Niederberger, general manager of utilities, development and operations for the city of Davis, warned that the university’s decision to join the water project would not necessarily lower Davis’ proposed water rates.” … warned Niederberger, sounding much like a parent telling his kids that daddy’s big new raise would not be spent on ice cream and bubble gum after all, “When you take 11 million dollars and start stretching it, it might represent a dime less in your water bill. It may or may not represent itself in a tangible rate decrease.” …

Seriously? … so we’re parting with 15 percent of our hard-fought river water and our rates likely won’t drop at all? … can you explain to us again, please, exactly why city officials are greeting UC Davis’ water grab with balloons and cartwheels and not with the seriousness it deserves? …

DOING THE MATH … our beloved town has about 16,000 rate-paying households, which, according to Niederberger’s stingy math (see above), will each receive a reduction of one thin dime on their water bills … that comes to a whopping $1,600, which still leaves $10,998,400 of UC Davis’ contribution unaccounted for …

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE … remember way back when city officials were selling this project because of our dire water future and we were told that Davis needed 18 million gallons of water a day from the surface water project? … that figure was then suddenly reduced to 12 millions gallons a day to sighs of relief all around … well, now that UC Davis has claimed 1.8 million gallons a day of Davis’ portion of the project’s water, we’re down to 10.2 million gallons a day … who knows, maybe tomorrow we’ll sell another 1.8 million gallons to Sac State and turn the Causeway Classic into an annual Mud Bowl …

CONSERVE, CONSERVE, CONSERVE … let’s see, in the last month or so the governor of this fine state has demanded we all cut our water use by 20 percent and the state Water Board is threatening to fine all water wasters $500 per violation … so, given that we just lost 15 percent of our river water to UC Davis, are we now supposed to conserve by 35 percent? … will the Water Board up our gutter-flooder fines to $1,000? …

All I know is that if the drought is as dire as all the “experts” claim it is, losing 1.8 million gallons of water a day is not a time for celebration … the next time I get that frowny-faced raindrop with my water bill telling me how scarce water has become, I’m going to change it to a smiley face and send it back to the city with a demand letter for an $11 million rebate …

WATERING THE GRASS … one kind reader suggested that UC Davis decided to tap into the city of Davis’ water supply to “water the grass at Aggie Stadium and keep it green” so potential football recruits don’t decide to take their skills elsewhere … a wonderful theory, but for the fact the world’s leading agricultural university installed fake grass when it built the stadium a few years back …

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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