Desert Water Agency Management Challenges

     Desert Water Agency (DWA) officials have amassed a competent record in delivering water to the western end of Coachella Valley. The agency was formed for that purpose and few would complain the job is not being done right. And, in years past, when the state’s water resources were more plentiful the task of delivering water was about all that was required of water agencies. All that has changed because plentiful state water resources no longer exist. We’re now in an era where there’s more need for water than there are supplies. Water conservation has become the biggest issue with respect to our water resources. And it appears Desert Water Agency officials are not  up to the task of leading the local water conservation charge. It may be that a change will need to occur in Desert Water Agency water management before that organization truly climbs aboard the drought recognition water conservation train.

Water Usage Customer Education and Records
     One of the most significant tools in water conservation is public education. That starts by providing customers with information about their water use in the current period, their water use history and water use comparison data. In the case of other utilities, such as gas and electricity providers, they routinely provide such information as part of the monthly billing statements. Desert Water Agency fall short in this area. DWA billings provide little information other than current Consumption Charge, Fixed Meter Charge and water used measured in 100 cubic foot totals. There’s nothing in the way of comparative historical use. As for the “cubic foot” counter, why, when “gallons of water used” are the normal public standard, does this agency insist on the obscure “cubic foot” term for water use totals? As for customer data, the question has to be asked whether the water agency possesses a modern computerized accounting system or do they rely on pen, paper and desktop calculators for their record keeping? Why are there no online accessible customer accounts to track water usage? Until the agency provides customers with cumulative and historic water use data it’s questionable how much commitment exists with respect to public education.

Click on statement for larger display.

        Click on statement for larger display.

Support for Significant Ongoing Public Input Lacking
      Unlike other large public agencies Desert Water Agency does not have a customer advisory panel (board, commission or committee, etc.) to work with the Board of Directors. The agency only utilizes customer input in response to specific issues. Such areas as conservation, education, water usage patterns,, are left to the in-house staff and customer input is filtered through staff management. That practice leaves the board with limited access to information and views from sources other than its staff.

Water Use Accountability
     Desert Water Agency needs to step up to the plate and do more with respect to water use and accountability. Simply pointing the finger at customers may not be the most appropriate route to take. A significantly meaningful drought conservation plan with enforced mandatory water use controls and penalties should be part of the organization’s Mission Statement and normal operation.

     Perhaps it’s time for a few new faces who understand and support significant water conservation measures to take charge.

Bond Shands
Desert Political Opinion at
The Notebook at
April 13, 2015

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