The Plot Thickens as We the Public Get Closer to the Truth about the Excessive Water Losses at Laguna Lake.
by Barry Levinson
Several months ago, as Parks and Recreation Committee member, I directly asked for and received in writing from the City of Fullerton’s Water System Manager, Dave Schickling, the water usage at Laguna Lake over the last 5 years. The water usage over this period of time indicated that the water consumed was almost identical each of those years.
Therefore, why did the city not take appropriate action to fix this problem before now? Why didn’t the Water Systems Manager inform the Parks and Recreation Committee about this ongoing long-term water loss problem at Laguna Lake?
We now know that the city of Fullerton has not been identifying the cost of water used by the city as a separate line item in the budget but rather passing all of its costs thru to the ratepayers in Fullerton.
At the September Park and Recreation Committee meeting, I made a motion that was seconded to agendize a change in how water is accounted for by the Parks and Recreation Department from the current pass-thru method to ratepayers to an itemized expense included in the costs for the Parks and Recreation Department.
This most needed change would provide for an accurate accounting of all costs to run the department. The current pass-thru method hides the true cost of the Parks and Recreation Department, thereby understating the real city budget deficits for the next two years by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, apparently the actual deficits are not the reported 2.8 million dollars over the next two years, but closer to $3.5 million dollars or more.
I also asked that Director Curiel invite Mr. Schickling to come before our committee to explain why the city apparently ignored this water loss issue at Laguna Lake for many years and at the same time did not make it known to the public. This situation is troubling since water is one of the larger costs necessary to run the Parks and Recreation Department:
Fullerton city government transparency must start with an accurate accounting of all costs required to run this city.
P.S. About six days before the normally scheduled monthly Parks and Recreation meeting in October, I received an email message from Director Hugo Curiel, stating that our Committee Chair had requested we go dark in October because the Water Department/City was not ready to present on the water accounting issue.
I guess the city/water department was not ready to provide answers as to why they did not disclose the excessive water loss problem when it began at least 5 years ago and maybe as long as 11 years ago when the Laguna Lake renovation was completed. I believed that the people of Fullerton deserved answers as soon as possible. I guess the city and/or our Parks and Recreation Committee Chair on the other hand thought it was prudent to put off the day of reckoning as long as possible.
I know one thing that is for sure, this would be the absolute worst time to consider the Downtown Core and Corridor and the College Town Special Projects.
For every member of the council as well as the city manager must know that we the public have not sacrificed so willingly and so much to conserve water only to give it all back and then some to developers and their consultant representatives.
I report, you decide.