Restore the Delta Blasts MWD's Secret Campaign to Keep It's Water Monopoly

By Dan Bacher | April 26, 2014 | The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California has engaged in a secret campaign to a...

By Dan Bacher | April 26, 2014 |

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California has engaged in a secret campaign to attack its critics in order to keep its water monopoly and to destroy Delta fish and farms, according to documents obtained by the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) under the California Public Records Act.

"These documents reveal that the top official with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California participated in meetings on the development of a covert public relations campaign designed to discredit the San Diego County Water Authority and its long-term water supply diversification strategy," according to a news release from SDCWA. "The sub-rosa campaign is the latest in a string of similar efforts by MWD and some of its member agencies dating back to the late-1990s, records show."

Eastern Municipal Water District’s records show that in 2012 MWD’s general manager, Jeffrey Kightlinger, participated in meetings on a secret public relations campaign in San Diego County being developed for MWD by Eastern and its consulting firm, Sacramento-based California Strategies. Eastern’s board of directors handled the project in closed sessions, though Eastern’s claims that the work was protected from public disclosure under attorney-client and attorney work product privileges proved meritless, SDCWA said.

“Metropolitan has a long and dark history of abusing its power – and trying to hide its activities from public scrutiny,” said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the Water Authority. “This latest episode shows that MWD will stop at nothing to maintain its monopoly and punish San Diego County.”

A statement from MWD denied the claims of collusion between the Eastern Municipal Water District and MWD.

"That plan was designed by EMWD to provide a more balanced representation and dialogue in San Diego County on regional and statewide water issues - including those impacting EMWD customers," according to MWD. "The completed EMWD plan was presented to staff at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Metropolitan chose not to entertain the suggested plan."

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla on April 24 slammed MWD for conducting a "secret underground media campaign" - and questioned the legality of public agencies engaging in this kind of secret activity.

“Metropolitan Water District's (MWD) participation in a secret underground media campaign to influence the thinking of Southern California water rate payers reveals that they will stop at nothing to protect their position as the largest wholesaler of water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "MWD has proven that they do not have the moral authority to speak to a genuine water policy solution that restores the health of the Bay-Delta estuary."

"MWD will punish member agencies that question their rate structure," she said. "MWD’s staff resources and time would be better-spent promoting regional self-sufficiency for water management. Even worse, MWD has no qualms about participating in a secret society to undermine those who raise questions about the need for the proposed Delta tunnels project boondoggle. Without a doubt, the real threat to the Delta is MWD's push for the BDCP, which will decimate the estuary and the economy of the five Delta counties."

“We know that Westlands Water District is using ratepayers’ monies for a $1 million PR campaign. We can’t wait to see the lies that effort will add to the pile. Is it legal for these public agencies to engage in this type of secret activity?" Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

To read the Board memo and documents obtained by the Water Authority’s Public Records Act request, go to: can be read here: and The Eastern documents are being discussed by the Water Authority’s Imported Water Committee during the Board of Directors regular monthly meeting today.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a strong supporter of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels. If built, the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Yet the tunnels would not produce one single drop of new water. If the tunnels were in place right now, they wouldn't do one thing to help California's current drought.

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