Water Debate Update

Rialto Now readers we have some news on the front lines of our water debate. Yes the city made a horrible decision to not place the American Water sell off on the November Ballot, it seems if these reports are true they are finally listening, but why now? Well Councilman Ed Palmer is running for re-election on a failed platform of being there for the community & calling the city on wasteful spending that lasted a little more than a year and died. Reports are that Councilman Ed Scott isn’t seeking another term as Councilman and is seeking the job of Mayor as current Mayor Vargas is ending her time as mayor. As well as Councilwoman Deborah Robertson is also taking another stab at Mayor but her seat on council isn’t up for grabs this go around.

So with Deborah Robertson was absent and the city decided to change its course on the outsource water agreement and the 2 possibilities are Veolia North American who currently works with our waste water systems and East Valley Water District (EVWD) that currently services the top portion of the city’s water services and has worked on removing perchlorate groundwater plume.

What is important now is to continue the pressure and make sure we know about any concession agreement from here on out, we are allowed to ask questions for clarity and that the City Council stops referring to any balloon payment from any other outside companies as Redevelopment money. I have had personal conversations with people inside the state controllers office that such money may fall into the states preview to take since all RDS’s departments are no to be eliminated. Call it what it is money the RUA has owed the general fund for years………….

Ed Scott said that the thing holding up our In & Out project was the state finishing up with old RDA projects. He later said he didn’t know why things were taking so long and blamed the City Staff for not keeping Council informed of time lines and issues.

Were looking for Honest hard-working people to fill Council seats, if the news is difficult give it to use straight and allow us the community to see where we can help make the hard choices for our community together. Also we need Council Members that let us know we are heard, listen to us and don’t bark at us when you don’t like what we say.

American Water is out as operator for Rialto

Jim Steinberg, Staff Writersbsun.com

Posted:   07/10/2012 10:33:57 PM PDT

The yearlong suspense over whether New Jersey-based American Water Works Co. Inc. will manage Rialto’s water and wastewater system is over – it will not.”My gosh this is wonderful. I hated those people (American Water). I don’t feel comfortable with a company on the Stock Exchange,” said Toni Volinski, a longtime Rialto resident, who has been opposed to the American Water deal from the get-go.

“We wouldn’t have a lot of control – and that frightened me,” she said.

The financial backer of the 30-year concession agreement that made American Water the manager of Rialto’s water and wastewater department has removed American Water as the operator, Peter Luchetti, authorized officer of Rialto Water Services LP, wrote Mike Story, Rialto’s city administrator.

Leading the list of potential replacement operators, Luchetti wrote, is Veolia North American, which has managed Rialto’s wastewater treatment plant for years and nearby West Valley Water District, which has been a long-time partner with Rialto in the cleanup effort for a large perchlorate groundwater plume.

At its June 26 meeting, the council voted 4-1 to approve a rate increase that would propel water and sewer rates 114.8 percent by 2016.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott, in an interview Tuesday, said he and councilman Ed Palmer, who led a subcommittee to evaluate water service alternatives for Rialto, had told Rialto Water Services that a substitute for American Water was needed.

Scott said a well-organized resistance to American Water necessitated the action to find another company to manage Rialto’s water operations.

Scott was referring to the campaigns organized by the the Utility Workers Union of America. “Replacement of American Water would be excellent news and a victory for Rialto ratepayers,” Mark Brooks, a union spokesman, said.

The Utility Workers Union has several contract issues with American Water across the country.

This is the Letter From Mark Brooks & Stop Rialto Water Rate Hikes.

Dear Rialto friends and neighbors:

I am writing to let you know about a potential huge victory for ratepayers in Rialto!

Although this may seem like a “good news/bad news” story, in our view Rialto citizens are on the verge of overturning the City Council’s very bad decision to contract out the City’s water system to for-profit American Water Company.

But first the bad news: 

Last week four members of the City Council decided not to place our referendum challenging the Concession Agreement for the water and wastewater system on the ballot for a public vote.*  A majority of the City Council – everyone EXCEPT Council Member Baca – made this absurd decision, even though the County and the City have both certified the fact that we submitted far more than enough signatures from Rialto voters to place this issue on the ballot.

We believe the City’s excuse for not placing this issue on the ballot – that we supposedly failed to attach the entire 1,600 page Concession Agreement to our voter petitions – is completely bogus.  There is nothing in California law that would require us to do this.  In addition, even if the City Council thought it had any grounds to refuse to place this issue on the ballot, the City is ignoring the long-standing California procedure that is required to ignore a valid referendum petition submitted by the voters.

We believe the four members of the City Council who made this decision are engaged in a desperate attempt to prevent Rialto voters from passing judgment on the proposed Concession Agreement.

And now for the good news:

We have received reports that the City may replace American Water as the proposed operator for Rialto’s water system under the Concession Agreement!

If the City indeed makes this decision, this will be a huge victory for Rialto ratepayers.  The City’s own reports have consistently shown that for-profit American Water’s participation in this deal is one of the important reasons for the proposed water rate hikes.

What’s more, we understand that neighboring West Valley Water District might be a “preferred” replacement to operate the City’s water system.

Although the UWUA has never taken any position on who should operate the City’s water system (other than the City itself), in our view this would be good news for Rialto.  West Valley is a neighboring public water system – rather than an out-of-state corporation like American Water – and already provides water services to roughly half the City of Rialto.   Moreover, we believe American Water has a demonstrated track record of hostility toward the rights of utility workers.

So what about the referendum petition?

Unfortunately, the City Council’s decision not to place the referendum on the ballot probably means that someone would have to incur considerable legal expenses to sue the City to overturn this misguided decision.  The UWUA is not in a position to incur these significant expenses at this time.

Even so, you should know that any Rialto voter who signed the petition against the City Council’s decision may have the right to sue.  Obviously this would be a big undertaking.  Moreover, we believe any Rialto voter or group interested in pursuing that fight should act immediately!  We may be able to refer any Rialto group or voter interested in pursuing this further to appropriate attorneys.

Celebrate the victory!

There can be no doubt that – if indeed he City reverses its decision to contract out Rialto’s water system to American Water – this victory will be a direct result of your many efforts over the past year to oppose the Council’s misguided decisions!

In our view, any decision to replace American Water as the operator of the Rialto water system would be a huge victory – for ratepayers and for workers.  As we have said many times before, any deal to contract out the City’s water system to American Water would be a bad deal for Rialto ratepayers.

Thank you for your many efforts in this struggle.  We will continue to keep you informed.

Sincerely,

Mark Brooks

Utility Workers Union of America/SOS Rialto Water

* Please note that Council Member Joe Baca, Jr. voted AGAINST the City Council’s decision not to place our referendum on the ballot.   To his credit, Council Member Baca has consistently opposed the Rialto Council’s misguided decisions concerning this entire issue.  In our view, Council Member Baca has shown real integrity throughout this debate over the future of Rialto’s public water system.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rosalie Galvan
    May 25, 2013 @ 22:04:44

    I like the fact that someone is looking out for us Mr Baca run for Mayor I would like to see you be our Mayor I did not know that all these other people were against the citizens of Rialto

    Reply

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