By Darrell Beck
An essential aspect of living in the backcountry is that it’s always been necessary and wise to be forward thinking and be prepared for any emergencies that might occur. This was brought to my attention by Bill O’Reilly, who reminded us in his recent editorial about the aftermath of the big East Coast hurricane, Sandy—”many of us have forgotten about nature as we have become addicted to machines.” Sandy took them away. Power gone, no Internet, no cell phones. ”Suddenly, it was 1850 with one exception—battery-operated flashlights and radios.”
I have always been concerned that Ramona was situated in a precarious location, being at the end of a pipeline being supplied with imported water from distant sources that must be pumped 1,000 feet uphill and stored in tanks. I also know that the modern Ramona of today could not exist without imported water and wastewater treatment facilities. This leads me to speculate—due to circumstances beyond our control, might the time come when our water supply was greatly reduced, cut off, or water costs would escalate beyond our ability to pay? What would happen to our lives and investments in Ramona?
These questions and concerns are some of the reasons why I became interested in seeking a position on the Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors. Since being seated in 2009, the board has taken steps to plan for emergencies and improve infrastructure while responding to the current economic recession without reducing the current level of service. All of this requires sensible leadership and dedicated and skilled employees. However, politics, legal fees, external mandates, ever increasing laws and environmental demands are a major factor adding to escalating costs to provide that service.
Over the years, California voters have consistently approved scores of state initiatives and bond issues associated with environmental measures with the desire to provide “clean water” by protecting habitat and endangered species. In addition, California voters seem to favor political candidates who support “open space and clean air,” and as a result the state Legislature has adopted regulations to reduce carbon emissions and cut greenhouse gasses in an effort to stop global warming as a means to raise revenue. In addition, a “carbon tax” is looming on the horizon. State efforts to stop global warming and the enforcement of many other environmental regulations and mandates are driving business, including their tax base and jobs, out of California, leaving less people to pay for, and maintain, the existing infrastructure.
During the 2012 General Election, California voters cast their decisions on state initiatives: 30, 31, and 32 related to taxation and labor that will surely add to inflation and the cost of utility service. In addition, California voters supported enough candidates in one party giving California a “super majority” of Democrats in the state Legislature assuring a blank check to higher taxes and more environmental and climate change regulations that will greatly affect products and service costs.
Also during the 2012 General Election, voters nationwide re-elected Barack Obama, who has championed a “green energy agenda” and is opposed to developing domestic oil and coal energy sources in favor of windmills and solar. As a result, we must be aware that when we reduce the supply of reliable energy such as oil and coal, the cost of everything else will increase.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama Administration has been granted tremendous regulatory powers over the land, water, and atmosphere; also including Obamacare and a multitude of new taxes that will substantially impact costs to provide services.
Ratepayers should also be aware that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors continues to develop a massive environmental program called the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), intended to manage habitat and species. All private land added to this open space is removed from the tax rolls and produces no revenue, but still requires maintenance. The county also has endorsed the Carbon Action Plan (CAP) that addresses efforts to control carbon emissions to stop global warming. All of these environmental programs, mandated by the supervisors, again will add to utility costs to the RMWD.
With every decision the RMWD Board of Directors renders concerning the district and our budget and how to maintain stable and affordable service, we must consider all of these escalating environmental mandates, regulations and taxes that create inflation, devaluation of the dollar and rising costs to Ramona ratepayers. In addition, we must also be prepared for the State of California to raid our local taxes as they have in past years because they keep growing government and refuse to balance the state budget.
So we must realize that protecting the environment and paying for big government for the privilege to live in California comes with a heavy price.
Darrell Beck represents Division 1 on the Ramona Municipal Water District Board and is board vice president.