Title: Focus on "Just One Thing"
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Title: Focus on "Just One Thing"
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: MWD
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Article By John R. Wodraska -General Manager Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
General Note: Box 8, Folder 6 ( Vail Conference, 1996 - 1996 ), Item 48
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00001522
Volume ID: VID00001
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Full Text




MWD
METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT OF SOUTHERN
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION


"JUST ONE THING"

John R. Wodaska
General Manager
Metropolitan Water District ofSouthern Califrnia


It is a great pleasure to return to Florida. Although I may now live more than
3,000 miles away in Southern California, I will always think of Florida as:
1) a place I began my professional career in water resources
2) a spectacularly beautiful and alluring place and
3) where I spent 25 years establishing wonderful friends and colleagues.
Today, as the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California-we are the world's largest wholesale water agency-I am invariably
asked to compare and contrast the water systems in Florida and California. I believe I
am probably the only person to have had the experience of leading the nations largest
water agencies in the East and West.
At first glance, the two appear to share numerous similarities. Both transformed
relatively inhospitable places into major urban areas in the world and both have
provided water to Mickey Mouse. But, seriously, both regions are served by extensive
water delivery and supply systems. Both are areas of burgeoning growth. Both are in
the nation's top three as a tourist destination. Both have
issues of contention between north and south, as well as
urban, agricultural and environmental interests.
However, when it comes to the resource management
and political issues that will drive the future of California
and Florida, the two states have significant differences.
Water and related resource management issues
continue to evolve in both states. Not only is water
imbedded into the each state's fabric, it also demands that
changes in policy and development be constant to meet
growing economic and environmental demands.
However, this evolution has brought turbulence and
instability to Florida. Once viewed as the state with some
of the most progressive water supply planning and
regulatory practices in the United States, Florida's future
water picture is now shrouded in a bureaucratic haze.
How else can you characterize the activities of the Water Commission Reform
Committee and the 53 bills addressing water management handled by the Florida
legislature this year?
This wasn't always the case. In 1980 while I was the chief operating officer with
the South Florida Water Management District, I was invited to attend a three-week
program on environmental public policy at Harvard University It was quite an honor
to be among the more than 50 people at the conference representing a cross-section
of the public/private sector. Among those in attendance were the highest level officials
from federal, State and local governments, as well as private sector leaders.
While at the conference, I remember sitting in an auditorium as noted political
scientist Mark Stevens detailed the various institutional arrangements and options in
water and natural resources management Then, without any prior notice, he turned
to me and said that of all the water management systems he had analyzed, Florida had
the best.
Stevens went on to praise how the state is divided into five separate hydrologic
units, each with its own independent source of funding. He called Chapter 375-the
State statute that Florida water management districts operate under-one of the most
empowering, wide-reaching, progressive pieces of legislation in the United States.
More recently, I was talking with Vilma Horinkova, a colleague from my South
Florida Water Management District days, who now works for the World Bank. By the
way, next week, at the invitation of the World Bank, I will be in Paris comparing major
water supply systems around the globe with water resources executives from all
covers of the world. Anyway, Vilma was commenting how Florida water agencies
would still be the best-run operations she had yet come across, except that they
appear to be suffering from an overall management imbalance which she felt was
caused by an overload of environmental permitting responsibilities.
Today, these comments along with those of Stevens' many years ago, confirm that
the fundamental structure of Florida's water system is sound. But why is this
magnificent institution under attack and seemingly in disarray?
The first hint of today's quandary should have been realized nearly 25 years ago.
ike a great prognosticator, University of Wyoming law professor Frank J. Trealease in
1972 predicted the troubles Florida could run into when he wrote about "The Model
Water Code, the Wise Administrator and the Goddam Bureaucrat"
In the article printed in the Natural Resources Journal, Trelease claimed that the
Florida water management system would only work if you had a Solomon-like
administrator at its reins. lie warned that if the state reverted to bureaucratic practices


and policies, the system would collapse from the weight of its own ineffectiveness.
Powerful and telling stuff
To better illustrate what I consider some shortcomings of the Florida system, let's
compare it to what's going on in California.
APATHY:
One of the most obvious differences between California and Florida is the attitude
of the people toward water
In California, few topics in state history have generated as much vitriol as water.
Almost everyone seems to have an opinion about the topic, For more than a century
it was well known that when anyone mentioned water in California, it was best to
prepare for a spirited argument, a bitter lawsuit or, in earlier days, have a gun at the
ready It's the topic that supposedly led American legend Mark Twain to say:
"Whiskey's for drinking water's for fighting' over."
Water also has played a starring role on the silver screen. It's the driving force
behind the Academy Award-winning movie, "Chinatown,"
which was apparently inspired by the city of Los Angeles'
land and water grab in the Owens Valley in the early
1900s.
Even in California's political arena, water is
respectfully recognized. The state Legislature has
committees-the California Assembly's Water, Parks and
Wildlife Committee and the State Senate's Agriculture and
Water Resources Committee-to consider and resolve
water issues.
-"" In Florida, on the other hand, the mention of water
raises nary an eyebrow. This reaction-or lack of one-
can be traced to the role water has played in
the state's history. The system of water delivery in South
Florida was created to deal with hurricanes and the
abundance of water. When your state averages 60 inches of
rainfall annually you tend to view water as the "enemy"
The creation of Florida's water system is based on the doctrine that water must
be moved out of people's backyards and off the fields. By contrast, Californians,
particularly Southern Californians, cherish every drop.
The opposing attitudes between Floridians and Southern Californians toward
water can be traced to the variances in weather between the two regions. Strip away
the palm trees and well-manicured lawns in Southern California and what's left
actually is a semi-ard, desert-like region, averaging 12 inches of rain, compared to
Florida's semi-tropical climate.
These climatic differences have produced fundamental differences in the actual
operating systems in Florida and Southern California.
OPERATING SYSTEM:
Florida operates an intricate, multi-tiered, and multi-purpose system of open,
unlined canals to transport raw water. Southern California relies on a singularly
designed system of aqueducts, tunnels and more than 750 miles of large-diameter
pipeline to import its supplies from as far as 400 miles away. Interestingly, South
Florida and Metropolitan move between 1.5 and 3 million acre-feet of water a year.
The Colorado River Aqueduct, which Metropolitan built during the Depression
era, carries its precious cargo 242 desolate desert-miles, over, around and through
various mountain ranges, into the south coastal plain. Operating more efficiently today
than it did more than 50 years ago, the aqueduct has been recognized as one of the
seven modem engineering wonders of the United States.
The federal government also has taken differing roles in the development of the
water systems for Florida and California.
Florida and other eastern states have relied on the federal government to build
their infrastructure and solve their water supply problems. Southern California water
agencies have taken another approach-they've done it themselves. There has been
a non-federal interest-not looking to Washington for handouts.
The city of Los Angeles initiated the idea of importing water from distant locations
when it tapped the Owens Valley early in the century Metropolitan followed suit by
building the Colorado River Aqueduct to augment that supply
As urban Southern California's population exploded, the region stepped forward
to help finance the construction of the State Water Project. Water now comes to the
Southland from the northern portion of the state through a network of dams, reservoirs,
power plants and the 444-mile-long California Aqueduct.






*ji


Most recently, Metropolitan broke ground on what some observers already are
calling the last big reservoir to be built in the West. This reservoir is the latest in a
string of remarkable water projects. All of these facilities were built without federal
assistance or funding. However, local interests have paid the billions of dollars and we
are presently engaged in $4.7 billion capital improvement program.
Another operating difference is in water treatment Florida water management
supplies raw water, at MWD two-thirds of our supplies are treated. We operate five
treatment plants-the largest capable of producing 800 million gallons of filtered and
disinfected water every day
BOARD SELECTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
Another comparison can be made in the selection and composition of the
respective boards that govern water policy in the two regions.
The 51-member board of the Metropolitan Water District is comprised of
representatives of the district's customers-the 27 member public agencies that buy
imported water and distribute supplies to the more than 16 million Southland
consumers. Therefore, they are directly accountable to the member agency or
constituency they serve.
Since they are appointed by their respective member agency to serve a particular
constituency, our board enjoys a level of stability brought upon by the longevity of our
core directors. In fact, we presently have three directors with more than 30 years of
board experience, two with more than 15 years and another two with over 10 years.
With each year they hold their posts, Metropolitan directors seem to develop a greater
knowledge of water issues which leads to their making progressively bigger
contributions.
Unfortunately, Florida's recent experience in board selection has rejected stability
and longevity. During my early years at South Florida Water Management District, my
average board member had served for 10-plus years. At one time, right before I left
in 1991, it was about a year of experience. Who would run a $160 million business
this way?
Florida's board system has been victimized by partisan politics and self-imposed,
two-term limits. Since board posts are appointed by the governor, each election seems
to bring about a complete board turnover. The board selection process lacks
accountability to the area and interests it represents.
The Governor could set up a process to address this flaw. This revised process
might result in the water management districts getting constituencies-something they
desperately need.
Regarding accountability, I remember the clamoring for elected water board
members to make water management districts more responsive. You may have heard
about the recent multi-billion dollar financial debacle suffered by Orange Countytln
Southern California. To make a long and painful story short, a multi-term elected
county treasurer had placed the county's investment portfolio into risky and ultimately
compromising positions. Once the roof caved in and the dust settled, the county
treasurer didn't wait for the next election. After an embarrassing public legislative
hearing in the State Capitol, he resigned in disgrace and has plea-bargained with the
courts to a lesser sentence on criminal negligence charges. The point is, elected does
not necessarily equate to accountability I prefer and recommend oversight.
Swings in board leadership are costing Florida and its water system. In this :.
popular age of term limits, this constant turnover is costing your state its institutional
memory and links to the business community
In addition, your Florida system is being compromised by the lack of board
experience and water knowledge. Age-old cries that board representatives should not
represent a particular constituency, such as agriculture or the development
community, defy logic. What you're left with are board members who know very little
about water and its impact on the economy You certainly would not run a
corporation or business this way. A water district should be no different.
,Water touches everyone's lives, so I hope Florida will develop a screening process
and constituent base that will help make your water system operate more responsively
and effectively for the people and businesses your agency serves.
MISSION:
Differences also can be seen in the mission of the respective agencies. In the past,
planning to meet Southern California's water needs focused almost exclusively on the
construction and operation of water distribution facilities.
**More.recently, however, Metropolitan has taken a mord comprehensive, water ;.,
management role. That new role is reflected in the district's mission to provide its
Southern California service area with adequate and reliable supplies of high-quality
water in an environmentally and economically responsible way.
The district also has undertaken an Integrated Resources Planning process that
will guide the district's resource decisions into the next century. The IRP process
incorporates input from other key disciplines, such as environmentalism, economics,
education and public policy, into the water resource mix. This new approach is
captured in our plans to build Southern California largest reservoir.
Like Metropolitan, Florida's mission also has evolved from the days when it only
narrowly focused on flood control matters. In 1972, legislation broadened the
district's role to be a comprehensive water manager.
But soon the district's mission multiplied as responsibilities increased to include
environmental concerns, land-use management, land acquisition and surface water
discharge permits, as well as water quality enforcement and regulations. In other
words, the water agency became the dumping ground for the issues the State
Legislature did not want to touch or fund.
As a result, this broadening of responsibilities went too far. Today, the district
balances competing interests, such as urban, environmental and agri-business,


thereby diluting its effectiveness. The district has lost the ability to speak with "one
voice."
As time passes, Florida must realize that all water interests must be better defined
and represented, including the state's urban community Yet, your water management
agency has tried to balance all of the state's water interests with environmental
protection and enhancement as its fundamental objective. This has resulted in
conflicting missions.
This has been clearly evident as Florida struggles to meld its water management
environmental responsibilities with growth management concerns. Since the districts
issue surface water and consumptive use permits, their boards have become
embroiled in the politics of the growth management debate. This has prevented the
agency from addressing more fundamental issues, like increasing the reliability of its
water supplies. Remove the environmental permitting components from the water
management districts and substitute a state-funded program to be responsible for
environmental protection. Let the districts be service providers.
In Southern California, Metropolitan's unwavering focus on water supply reliability
keeps the district from being sidetracked by other issues. Growth management and
environmental issues should not be the predominant concern of water resource
agencies; those important decisions must be left to others, such as the Legislature,
municipalities, counties and other land-use commissions.
Instead of speaking for a variety of competing constituencies, Metropolitan has
concentrated on representing urban interests. Other areas and players have stepped
forward to represent agricultural interests and the environmental community And,
most recently the business community has even taken a greater role in water matters.
All my board members know what our mission is-to supply water to 16 million
people. I don't think the same can be said for Florida water management district
board members.
FINANCING:
Comparisons also can be made about the regions' funding and water pricing
mechanisms. Much like Florida, when my district was formed in 1928, it depended
on ad valorum taxes as the main revenue source. Over time, however, Metropolitan's
finances have shifted to where more than 80 percent of our revenue today is
generated from water sales. This use-and-pay concept helps Metropolitan maintain
its focus on its mission.
As you know, Florida agencies are largely funded through the collection of ad
valorum taxes. Also, your water is not sold, but provided as a public service. Here,
the water charge is based on acreage being served.
In alifornia, Metropolitan wholesales by the acre-foot to its member agencies
who theft sell it, through meters, to consumers. This gives Metropolitan the ability to
develop a rate structure than can provide economic stability as well as promote
conservation. Florida may want to move forward with other water sale and pricing
structures to get a better hold on operation and control of its water resources.
Interestingly, a family in Orlando or Miami pays approximatelythe same for
water service as a family in Los Angeles, but the LA. family has to pay for the
commodity and have it brought in hundreds of miles.
SUMMARY
As CEO of two of the modem world's largest water agencies; and as a resource
consultant, I've looked at water systems from all over the world-South America
Israel, the Middle East-and this experience confirms that we once had a wonderful
idea here in Florida. Unfortunately, we've loaded so many other responsibilities and
problems on our water management agency that we've made it ineffective. Nbw the
Florida system struggles to do any of its jobs right, including its main one-supplying
dependable water supplies.
BrianArthur of Stanfoai University has said: "The secret of well-being is
simplicity Yet the secret ofvolution is tht continual emergence of cor;plexity" When
business got in trouble in the 1980s, they un-diversified; got "cose to the customer"
in order to survive. When public institutions become too complex, do we have the
option to un-diversify them? I say you must.'
The Florida legislature's response to increasing complexity over the last several
decades was to load the water management districts down with more responsibilities.
Tlis haitot been a stabilizing situation for you. Your bureaucracy has reached its
saturation point You can't continue to be all things todll people.
let me summarize for you where I think Florida water must now evolve. Let me
submit to you that the uer water service needs are priary.
Let the water management districts concentrate on water supi and floo4
control Other authorities need to be responsible for land-use matters,
environmental permitting and compliance.
You need knowledgeable leaders on your boards who are accountable to and
have the backing of constituencies.
But, most importantly, it's time to return to the basics. You provide water
service.
Now that I come from Hollywood and "La-La Land," I have been accused of only
relating to films and the motion picture industry. But, I believe Florida can learn a
great deal from a scene in the movie "City Slickers." ,
Maybe you remember the scene whereJack Palance's character, Curley, gives Billy
Crystal the film's main message: "Everybody's got to be good at one thing." One thing.
Well, Florida, just call me Curley because I believe in that message. But before I
get on my knees to do some one-armed push-ups, I want to reiterate that I believe the
state's fundamental water system is sound. You just need to get back to the basics-
your one thing-providing water service.
It's time to stop tinkering, Florida water people. It's time to concentrate on just
one thing.

/ ", ^ ^, ,








MWD
METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT OF SOUTHERN I
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIVISION


"JUST ONE THING"

John R. Wodrska
General Manager
Metropolitan Water District of Southern Calirnia


It is a great pleasure to return to Florida. Although I may now live more than
3,000 miles away in Southern California, I will always think of Florida as:
1) a place I began my professional career in water resources
2) a spectacularly beautiful and alluring place and
3) where I spent 25 years establishing wonderful friends and colleagues.
Today, as the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California-we are the world's largest wholesale water agency-I am invariably
asked to compare and contrast the water systems in Florida and California. I believe I
am probably the only person to have had the experience of leading the nation's largest
water agencies in the East and West.
At first glance, the two appear to share numerous similarities. Both transformed
relatively inhospitable places into major urban areas in the world and both have
provided water to Mickey Mouse. But, seriously both regions are served by extensive
water delivery and supply systems. Both are areas of burgeoning growth. Both are in
the nation's top three as a tourist destination. Both have
issues of contention between north and south, as well as
urban, agricultural and environmental interests.
However, when it comes to the resource management
and political issues that will drive the future of California
and Florida, the two states have significant differences.
Water and related resource management issues
continue to evolve in both states. Not only is water
imbedded into the each state's fabric, it also demands that
changes in policy and development be constant to meet
growing economic and environmental demands.
However, this evolution has brought turbulence and
instability to Florid. Once viewed as the state with some
of the most progressive water supply planning and
regulatory practices in the United States, Florida's future
water picture is now shrouded in a bureaucratic haze. -
How else can you characterize the activities of the Water Commission Reform
Committee and the 53 billsiddressing water management handled by the Florida
legislature this year? ,,
This wasn't always the case. In 1980 while I was the chief operating officer with
the South Florida Water Management District, I was invited to attend a three-week
program on environmental public policy at Harvard University It was quite an honor
to be among the more than 50 people at the conference representing a cross-section
of the public/ivate sector Among those in attendance were the highest level officials
from federal, State and local governments, as well as private sector leaders.
While at the conference, I remember siting in an auditorium as noted political
scientist Mark Stevens detailed the various institutional arrangements and options in
water and natural resources management. Then, without any prior nodtce he turned
to me and said that of all the water management systems he had analed, Florida had
the best.
Stevens went on to praise how the state is divided into fiveseparate hydsologic
units, each with its own independent source of finding. called Chapter 37S -the
State statute that Florid jue management districts operate under- of the most
empowering, wide-reaching progressive pieces of legislation in the Unite States.
Mo'lerc~ily, I was talng with Vilma Horinkova a coleague from my South
Florida Water Management District days, who now works for he World Bank. By the
way, next week, at the invitation of the World Bank, twill be in Paris comparing major
water supply systems around the globe with water resources executives from all
comers of the world. Anyway, ilma was commenting how Florida water agencies
would still be the best-run operations she had yet come across, except that they
appear to be suffering from an overall management Imbalance which she felt was
caused by an overload of envinmental permitting responsbilhes.
Today, these comments along with those of Stevens' many years ago, confirm that
the fundamental structure of Florida's water system is sound. But why is this
magnificent institution under attack and seemingly in disarray?
The first hint of today's quandary should have been realized nearly 25 years ago.
Uke a great prognosticator, University of Wyoming law professor FrankJ. Tealease in
1972 predicted the troubles Florida could run into when he wrote about "The Model
Water Code, the Wise Administrator and the Goddam Bureaucrat."
In the article printed in the Natural Resources Journal, 'release claimed that the
Florida water management system would only work if you hada Solomon-like
administrator at its reins. He warned that if the state reverted to bureaucratic practices


and policies, the system would collapse from the weight of its own ineffectiveness.
Powerful and telling stuffl
To better illustrate what I consider some shortcomings of the Florida system, let's
compare it to what's going on in California.
APATHY:
One of the most obvious differences between California and Florida is the attitude
of the people toward water.
In California, few topics in state history have generated as much vitriol as water
Almost everyone seems to have an opinion about the topic. For more than a century,
it was well known that when anyone mentioned water in California, It was best to
prepare for a spirited argument, a bitter lawsuit or, in earlier days, have a gun at the
ready It's the topic that supposedly led American legend Mark Twain to say:
"Whiskey's for drinking water's for fighting' over."
Water also has played a starring role on the silver screen. It's the driving force
behind the Academy Award-wnnning movie, "Chinatown,"
Which was apparently inspired by the city of Los Angeles'
land and water grab in the Owens Valley in the early
900s.
Even in California's political arena, water is
respectfully recognized. The state Legislature has
committees--the California Assembly's Water, Parks and
Wildlife Committee and the State Senate's Agriculture and
Water Resources Committee-to consider and resolve
water issues.
In Florida, on the other hand, the mention of water
raises nary an eyebrow. This reaction-or lack of one-
can be traced to the role water has played in
the state's history. The system of water delivery in South
-Florida was created to deal with hurricanes and the
abundance of water When your state averages 60 inches of
rainfall annually, you tend to view watr as the "enemy"
'The creation of lorida's water system is based on the doctrine that water must
be moved out of people's backwards and off the fields. By contrast, Californians,
particularly Southern Calfornians, cherish every drop.
The opposing attitudes between Floridians and Southern Californians toward
water can be traced to the variances in weather between the two regions. Strip away
the palm trees and well-manicured lawns in Southern California and what's left
actually is a seal-arid, desert-like region, averaging 12 inches of rain, compared to
Florida's semi-tropical climate.
These dlmatic differences have produced fundamental differences in the actual
operating systems in Florida and Southern California. i:
OPERATING SYSTEM:
Florida operates an intricate, multi-tiered, and multi-purpose system of open,
unlined canals to transport raw water Southern California relies on a singularly '
designed'system of aqueducts, tunnels and more than 750 miles of large-diameter
pipeline to import its supplies from as far as 400 miles away Interestingly, South
Florida and Metropolitan move between 1.5 and 3 million acre-feet'ofwate4ter.
The Colorado River Aqueduct, which Metropolitan built during the Depression
era, carries its precious cargo 242 desolate desert-miles, over, around and through
various mountain ranges, into the soudtcoastal plain. Operating more efficiently loday
than It did more than 50 years ago, the aqueduct has been recognized as one of the
seven modern engineering wonders of the United States.
The federal government also has taken differing roles in the development of the
water systems for Florida and Califomia.
Florida and other eastern states have relied on the federal government to build
their infrastructure and solve their water supply problems. Southern California water
agencies have taken another approach-theyve done it themselves There has been
a non-federal interest-not looking to Washington for handouts.,
The city of Los Angeles initiated the idea of importing water from distant locations
when it tapped the Owens Valley early in the century Metropolitan followed suit by
building the Colorado River Aqueduct to augment that supply
As urban Southern California's population exploded, the region stepped forward
to help finance the construction of the State Water Project. Water now comes to the
Southland from the northern portion of the state through a network of dams, reservoirs,
power plants and the 444-mile-long California Aqueduct.


I




id







I









Most recently, Metropolitan broke ground on what some observers already are
calling the last big reservoir to be built in the West. This reservoir is the latest in a
string of remarkable water projects. All of these facilities were built without federal
assistance or funding. However, local interests have paid the billions of dollars and we
are presently engaged in $4.7 billion capital improvement program.
Another operating difference is in water treatment Florida water management
supplies raw water; at MWD two-thirds of our supplies are treated. We operate five
treatment plants-the largest capable of producing 800 million gallons of filtered and
disinfected water every day
BOARD SELECTION AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
Another comparison can be made in the selection and composition of the
respective boards that govern water policy In the two regions.
The 51-member board of the Metropolitan Water District is comprised of
representatives of the district's customers-the 27 member public agencies that buy
imported water and distribute supplies to the more than 16 million Southland
consumers. Therefore, they are directly accountable to the member agency or
constituency they serve.
Since they are appointed by their respective member agency to serve a particular
constituency, our board enjoys a level of stability brought upon by the longevity of our
core directors. In fact, we presently have three directors with more than 30 years of
board experience, two with more than 15 years and another two with over 10 years.
With each year they hold their posts, Metropolitan directors seem to develop a greater
knowledge of water issues which leads to their making progressively bigger
contributions.
Unfortunately, Florida's recent experience in board selection has rejected stability
and longevity. During my early years at South Florida Water Management District, my
average board member had served for 10-plus years. At one time, right before I left
in 1991, it was about a year of experience. Who would run a $160 million business
this way?
Florida's board system has been victimized by partisan politics and self-imposed,
two-term limits. Since board posts are appointed by the governor, each election seems
to bring about a complete board turnover. The board selection process lacks
accountability to the area and interests it represents.
The Governor could set up a process to address this flaw. This revised process
might result in the water management districts getting constituencies-something they
desperately need.
Regarding accountability, I remember the clamoring for elected water board
members to make water management districts more responsive. You may have heard
about the recent multi-billion dollar financial debacle suffered by Orange County in
Southern California. To make a long and painful story short, a multi-term elected
county treasurer had placed the county investment portfolio Into risky and ultimately
compromising positions. Once the roof caved in and the dust settled, the county
treasurer didn't wait for the next election. After an embarrassing public legislative
hearing in the State Capitol, he resigned in disgrace and has plea-bagained with the
courts to a lesser sentence on criminal negligence charges. The point is, elected does
not necessarily equate to accountability I prefer and recommend oversight.
Swings in board leadership are costing Florida and its water system. In this
popular age of term limits, this constant turnover is costing your state its institutional
memory and links to the business community
In addition, your Florida system is being compromised by the lack of board
experience and water knowledge. Age-old cries that board representatives should not
represent a particular constituency such as agriculture or the development
community, defy logic. What you're left with are board members who Imow very little
about water and its impact on the economy You certainly would not run a
corporation or business this way A water district should be no different
Water touches everyone's lives, so I hope Florida will develop a screening process
and constituent base that will help make your water system operate more responsively
and effectively for the people and businesses your agency serves.
MISSION:
Differences also can be seen in the mission of the respective agencies. In the past,
planning to meet Southern California's water needs focused almost exclusively on the
construction and operation of water distribution facilities.
More recently, however, Metropolitan has taken a more comprehensive, water
management role. That new role is reflected in the district's mission to provide its
Southern California service area with adequate and reliable supplies of high-quality
water in an environmentally and economically responsible way.
The district also has undertaken an Integrated Resources Planning process that
will guide the district's resource decisions into the next century. The IRP process
incorporates input from other key disciplines, such as environmenalism, economics,
education and public policy into the water resource mix. This new approach is
captured in our plans to build Southern California largest reservoir
Like Metropolitan, Florida's mission also has evolved from the days when it only
narrowly focused on flood control matters. In 1972, legislation broadened the
district's role to be a comprehensive water manager.
But soon the district's mission multiplied as responsibilities increased to include
environmental concerns, land-use management, land acquisition and surface water
discharge permits, as well as water quality enforcement and regulations. In other
words, the water agency became the dumping ground for the issues the State
Legislature did not want to touch or fund.
As a result, this broadening of responsibilities went too far. Today, the district
balances competing interests, such as urban, environmental and agri-business,


thereby diluting its effectiveness. The district has lost the ability to speak with "one
voice."
As time passes, Florida must realize that all water interests must be better defined
and represented, including the state's urban community. Yet, your water management
agency has tried to balance all of the state's water interests with environmental
protection and enhancement as its fundamental objective. This has resulted in
conflicting missions.
This has been nearly evident as Florida struggles to meld its water management
environmental responsibilities with growth management concerns. Since the districts
issue source water and consumptve use permits, their boards have become
embroiled in the politics of the growth management debate. This has prevented the
agency from addressing more fundamental issues, like increasing the reliability of its
water supplies. Remove the environmental permitting components from the water
management districts and substitute a state-funded program to be responsible for
environmental protection. Let the districts be service providers.
In Southern California, Metropolitan's unwavering focus on water supply reliability
keeps the district from being sidetracked by other issues. Growth management and
environmental issues should not be the predominant concern of water resource
agencies; those important decisions must be left to others, such as the Legislature,
municipalities, counties and other land-use commissions.
Instead of speaking for a variety of competing constituencies, Metropolitan has
concentrated on representing urban interests. Other areas and players have stepped
forward to represent agricultural interests and the environmental community And,
most recently the business community has even taken a greater role in water matters.
All my board members know what our mission is-to supply water to 16 million
people. I don't think the same can be said for Florida water management district
board members.
FINANCING:
Comparisons also can be made about the regions' funding and water pricing
mechanisms. Much like Florida, when my district was formed in 1928, it depended
on ad valorum taxes as the main revenue source. Over time, however, Metropolitan's
finances have shifted to where more than 80 percent of our revenue today is
generated from water sales. This use-and-pay concept helps Metropolitan maintain
its focus on its mission.
As you kno Florida agencies are largely funded through the collection of ad
valorum taxes. Also, your water is not sold, but provided as a public service. Here,
the water charge is based on acreage being served.
In Califomia, Metropolitan wholesales by the acre-foot to its member agencies
who then sell t, through meters, to consumers. This gives Metropolitan the ability to
develop a rate structure than can provide economic stability as well as promote
conservation. Florida may want to move forward with other water sale and pricing
structures to get a better hold on operation and control of its water resources.
Interestingly a family in Orlando or Miami pays approximately the same for
water service as a family in Los Angeles, but the LA. family has topay for the
commodity and have it brought in hundreds of miles.
SUMMARY:
As CEO of two of the modern world's largest water agencies, and as a resource
consultant, I've looked at water systems from all over the world-South America,
Israel, the Middle East-and this experience confirms that we once had a wonderful
idea here in Florida. Unfortunately we've loaded so many other responsibilities and
problems on our water management agency that we've made it ineffective. Now the
Florida system struggles to do any of its jobs right, induding its main one-supplying
dependable water supply
Brian Arthur of Stanfo Univrsity has said: "The secret of well-being is
simplicity Yet the secret evolution is fe continual emergence of complexity" When
businesses got in trouble in the 1980s, they un-diversified; got "dose to the customer"
in order to survive. When public institutions become too complex, do we have the
option to un-diversdy them? I say you must
The Florda legislature's response to increasing complexity over the last several
decades was to load the water management districts down with more responsibilities.
This has not been a stabilizing situation for you. Your bureaucracy has reached its
saturation point You can't continue to be all things to all people.
Let me summarize for you where I think Florda water must now evolve. Let me
submit to you that the user water service needs are primary.
Let the water management districts concentrate on water supply and flood
control. Other authorities need to be responsible for land-use matters,
environmental permitting and compliance.
You need knowledgeable leaders on your boards who are accountable to and
have the baking of constituendes.
But, most importantly it's time to return to the basics. You provide water
service.
Now that I come from Hollywood and "La-La Land," I have been accused of only
relating to films and the motion picture industry. But, I believe Florida can learn a
great deal from a scene in the movie "City Slickers."
Maybe you remember the scene where Jack Palance's character, Curley gives Billy
Crystal the film's main message: "Eveybody's got to be good at one thing." One thing.
Well, Florida, just call me Curley because I believe in that message. But before I
get on my knees to do some one-armed push-ups, I want to reiterate that I believe the
state's fundamental water system Is sound. You just need to get back to the basics-
your one thing-providing water service.
It's time to stop tinkering, Florida water people. It's time to concentrate on just
one thing.


.I~il




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