Thursday, August 06, 2009

Whiskey is for Drinking...

and water is for fighting over. While the origins of the old adage are disputed, they are a well known part of California's history, and they still ring true as the current situation in Palmdale demonstrates. As reported in the Antelope Valley News:
As Palmdale city and water district officials prepare to return to court over the water district's May rate hike, they are lobbing criticism back and forth.

Palmdale Water District placed a full-page advertisement in Sunday's Antelope Valley Press, saying the city's lawsuit against the water district will only cost taxpayers and ratepayers money that could better be spent in other ways. Mayor Jim Ledford responded Monday in a letter calling the rate hike "exorbitant and incomprehensible" as well as illegal.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge last month refused Palmdale's request for a preliminary injunction to block the rate hike, but another court hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Los Angeles on the city's request for a permanent injunction. A city attorney said it could take months before the request goes to trial.

"PWD has won the first court ruling, but the city insists it will continue lawsuits, so the battle begins," the Palmdale Water District ad said. "PWD estimates it will be forced to spend half a million dollars to defend itself against the city. The city will likely spend half a million dollars to attack PWD. That's one million dollars spent with no benefit to our community."

According to the Palmdale Water District the rate hikes are "...needed because of general increases in costs since 2005, necessary infrastructure repairs, promotion of conservation, improving water quality, responding to decreased water deliveries, among other reasons stated,".

Especially noteworthy is their mention of decreased water deliveries and necessary infrastructure repairs. Much of the country's water delivery infrastructure is aging and desperately in need of repair, an operation costly enough on it's own, but especially so when paired with an ongoing drought causing water scarcity throughout the state. In this environment are rate hikes inevitable? It looks like it will be a few months before we find out if that's the case for Palmdale, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see more stories like this in the near future. Stay tuned...