Pose Questions to SCV Water District CEO

Editor’s Note: Thanks to everyone who has submitted questions so far. Due to Labor Day weekend, San Jose Inside has decided to extend the deadline to pose questions to SCV Water District CEO Beau Goldie to 5pm on Friday.

In an effort to keep readers better informed about and involved with community issues, San Jose Inside will allow readers to become reporters and ask questions. If you’ve ever wondered why a certain question wasn’t posed, this will be your opportunity to step forward and ask. Each Friday, SJI will announce a person who has agreed to be interviewed, and we will leave it to readers to come up with the questions in the comments section. The cutoff to submit questions will be 5pm Tuesday. Due to time constraints on the people who agree to be interviewed, San Jose Inside will select 10 reader questions.

We will post questions and the public figure’s answers in a Q&A format the following Thursday. If an answer seems incomplete or unsatisfactory, SJI will do its best to follow up.

In this week’s Q&A, Santa Clara Valley Water District CEO Beau Goldie has agreed to answer your questions. The SCVWD manages a water resources system which includes supplying clean and safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf Santa Clara County’s 1.8 million residents. The district manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, a water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams.  It also provides wholesale water to 13 local retailers who use these and other sources to deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses. 

The ball’s now in your court. What would you like to know? Post your questions here.

18 Comments

  1. I have a few questions that could not be easily answered by looking at the district web site.
    1. The district owns a lot of property and much of it is unkempt and fenced in with ugly chain link. What efforts are being to improve the properties such as landscaping and better fencing?
    2. What efforts are being made to increase the public access to district facilities for walking trails, etc.?
    3. Does the district ever sell surplus properties?

  2. Another question – What is the status of the district’s retirement program? And is there a large unfunded liability that other govt. agencies are reporting?

  3. I’d like to ask how much the Water District spends each year on advertising and outreach?  Water District ads encourging people to conserve are on all of the time.  (By now, I think we’ve got it!)

  4. Bugsy,

    I agree, this stuff means nothing and is redundant. 

    Also they don’t really know what the “recharge Ponds” are used for…  They are called “Settlement Ponds” for Impurities / POOP!  That’s what is at the bottom of the those ponds.  Almaden Lake Park is built on older settlement ponds, they SCVWD & the City never dredged the old pond and “clean filled” with cleaner dirt.  They will never tell you that,  Almaden Lake is a dirty poop pond. 

    Sooooo you wonder why they close the park to swimming a couple weeks a year, they shock it with a massive dose of “GOOD bacteria” to help clean the usually filthy poopy muddy water. 

    YUCK! 

    Old Frank

  5. Are there any plans for the Water District to buy the South Bay Water Recycling Program from the City of San Jose? Based on my experience, it seems the City of San Jose (and the WPCP) does not want SBWR and would love to unload it on the District.

  6. Q1 – SCVWD “owns” the aquifer and watershed via state law (I believe) which means they own all the water under the ground and flowing across it in established water ways.  This diminishment of private property rights was a trade off towards establishing limits to well water production abuse that was causing land to subside in the 1920s and led in part to a series of reservoirs and later imported water.  It still bothers me, however, that the district owns all the water rights under everyone’s private property and can set their tarrif for well water on private property.  Do you think this legacy policy is still justified or is it just a cash cow that no one wants to tamper with?

    Q2 – The SCVWD has a reputation as the best compensated public agency in the South Bay with the most generous wages and benefits.  Is this true and why should rate payers have to absorb these huge overhead costs in the form of backdoor taxes that the district board passes without public vote (by changing wholesale water rates upwards constantly)?

    Q3 – Santa Clara Valley is both lush and fertile as well as “semi-arid” in climate.  A rain-fall average may vary dramatically in cycles.  When the Water Agency was first being drafted plans called for a system of 10 reservoirs to maximize the storage of local rainfall and water supply.  We didn’t get there and when the housing boom hit, cheap imported water replaced expensive plans for harvesting more storm water runoff.  Can and should the Water District do more to invest in local water supply infrastructure like additional reservoirs and storm runoff harvesting?

    Q4 – A part-time board in cohoots with an amenable Executive Director enjoyed “Carte Blanche” with district funds being used for many projects only remotely related to the districts mission.  Has the district cleaned up its act or is it still a big porkbarrel for local politicians to squeeze out pet projects?

    Q5 – The falacy of public sector compensation surveys are they are usually doctored to make outrageous pay and benefits look normal by reaching for comparables (look what the ceo at Apple makes, I’m only getting we’re only paying 1/3 of that, etc.) Are district executives and other staff enjoying overly generous benefits that could be corrected to reflect the changed economic circumstances of our region and time?  (Perhaps rolling out second-tier for new hires and encouraging some to leave with retirement windows.)?

    Q6 – A large percentage of our transient/homeless population have found “safe harbor” along district owned creeks.  Sometimes there’s an enforcement sweep and clean-up, but mostly these places are an unsafe no mans land where folks are best to stay away for their health and safety.  Is this district planning to do anything about this stuff?

    Q7 – Orange County rolled out water treatment plant that accomplishes the “toilet to tap” space-age type stuff of turning treated waste water into safe drinking water.  They actually scrapped their de-salination plant to do this and I guess are using the treated water for ground water recharge.  Are we headed in the same direction here?  If so, is it at a reasonable cost and effective scale to have a real impact on the local water supply in dry years?  Does it compare favorably in cost versus desalination or other efforts to increase supply?

    Q8 – In Santa Fe, developers are required to identify (provide/pay for) additional water resources for each new home built.  Is it time for something like there here or is this hidden subsidy for development likely to remain?

    Q9 – How would you rate the SCVWD as an organization based on your previous experiences?  Where can they do better?

  7. 1. What are your thoughts on fluoridation, and do you support efforts to add fluoride to the local water supply? Or is this a hot potato issue the district would prefer to side-step and leave to the local water companies?

    2. There have been seismic safety concerns about several district-owned damns. What is the district doing about these concerns? Is the district liable in the event of a catastrophic failure of a dam that results in loss of life and property? Would ratepayers be on the hook for said liability?

    3. Add me to the list of people questioning the history of high salaries and lavish benefits at this public agency. How do you justify them?

    4. In order to post these questions, San Jose Inside is asking me if water is wet or dry? Ironic, eh?

  8. Can you tell us about how the board does not have to respond to anyone and you keep giving yourselves perks and pay raises, then change districts to satisfy you own needs and agendas.

  9. People in the South Valley region of Santa Clara County are concerned about the seismic safety of Anderson Dam. What exactly will be done to improve the dam’s safety—and who will be liable for the expense of this expensive project?

  10. The Water District has constructed miles of flood protection projects to prevent flooding of homes and businesses.  If you live within a floodplain where a project was completed, when will you no longer have to pay for flood insurance,

  11. I have been told by the Mercury News, and by people who have received Humanitarian Awards from the Tech Museum (OK, it was Al Gore) that because of global warming the sea level will rise seven feet in the next eighty-nine years.

    I’m concerned.

    Will the SVC Water District be able to cope with this?

    I presume that at some point, we will turn on the spigot and receive not good ol’ Hetch Hetchy drinking water but icky sea water.

    Do your experts know when this will occur?

    Should we be including water desalinization kits along with our earthquake preparedness emergency supplies?

  12. I’ve heard drip irrigation uses less water than sprinklers but sometimes I see sprinklers running on farms during the heat of the day. Can the water district do anything to help farmers conserve water? Perhaps something similar to the Water-Wise House Call Program would be a good place to start.

  13. Editor’s Note: Thanks to everyone who has submitted questions so far. Due to Labor Day weekend, San Jose Inside has decided to extend the deadline to pose questions to SCV Water District CEO Beau Goldie to 5pm on Friday.

  14. What became of the new ozone system at the water plant in Los Gatos? We paid you with our taxes and yet I understand that they do not have the ozone. What has happened to our money for this? What other projects that we the taxpayers have paid you for has not been completed?

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