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Santa Clara County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Professor Ram Singh for Director of Water District #1

By Ram (Singh) Singh

Candidate for Director; Santa Clara Valley Water District; Division 1

This information is provided by the candidate
Control the District's runaway budget, stop increses in parcel taxes and water rates, manage water projects efficiently, protect enviroment and sustain our resources, strengthen levees and remove obstructions in our creeks, protect our groundwater from contamination, and ensure long-term good quality water supply to our community at a reasonable rate.
I, Professor Ram Singh, am a registered Civil Engineer with a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. I am a professor of Water Resources Engineering at San Jose State University. I have forty-five years of experience in all aspects of Water Resources Engineering. I want to be elected as a Director to the Board of the Santa Clara Valley Water District to bring about many needed changes. I will work to institute sound fiscal management practices, avoid duplicate and unnecessary projects, and eliminate waste in the budget to reduce or prevent further increase in water rates and taxes. I also want to strengthen levees and protect flood-prone areas from unplanned development, utilize innovative techniques to solve water and flood control problems, and to sustain our valuable groundwater resources for future generations. I will get external resources to implement needed projects. I will strive to ensure a long-term supply of safe water to our community at a reasonable rate and will serve the community ethically and honestly.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is overspending taxpayers' money and the Board of Directors is approving projects without proper engineering or benefit cost analysis. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, there is an urgent need for water resources experts to be elected to this Board. Knowledgeable engineers on the Board can assist in a thorough analysis of proposed water projects for their engineering contents, economic justification, and environmental impacts. The Santa Clara Valley Water District is a water engineering agency in need of water resources experts on its Board to provide appropriate oversight. While twelve years ago there were five engineers on the Board, today there are none. In the last twelve years, while the incumbent has been on the Board in District #1, the pump tax has doubled to a point that it now consists of half of the water bill for the residents in South San Jose. Taxpayers need a cost-conscious, water resources expert on the Board to reverse the disturbing trend of increasing water rates and taxes.

As more and more money flows into the Santa Clara Valley Water District's coffers, spending on wasteful projects increases. All of this is happening while the district is gradually reducing its role in maintaining and safeguarding our water resources. Isn't it time for the voters in the district to do something about it?

First, let's understand the windfall that is coming the Water District's way. About twelve years ago, a parcel tax was passed by taxpayers to pay for capital costs. It had a sunset clause, but the Water District later found a loophole so that this parcel tax could continue forever. In the meantime, it managed to get another parcel tax passed to clean the rivers. (I have found that our rivers have not been cleaned. Anyone can see that Coyote Creek is full of barriers and obstructions). With the explosion of home prices in Santa Clara County, these parcel taxes are bringing a windfall to the Water District.

Let's now look at how this windfall is being mismanaged. In the last twelve years, the Water District's budget for staff has tripled. The District's manpower has grown 60% in last twelve years and more than 1,000% in the last thirty-five years. Has the workload of the Water District increased proportionately to justify the tripling of the manpower in the last twelve years? Certainly not --the Water District's duties and responsibilities have remained the same. This has resulted in duplication and loss of productivity. These figures are approximate, but still indicate the magnitude of this unnecessary and extravagant growth. I believe that Santa Clara Valley Water District is now the largest local water agency in California after Los Angeles County Water & Power and the East Bay Municipal District, which own many dams in many counties and serve much larger populations.

The Water District has acquired land through condemnation and has rented warehouses with so much space that they are mostly underutilized. It has acquired many more vehicles and trucks than needed. In my judgment, this agency has lost control of its finances.

All of this mismanagement has not gone unnoticed. There have been three grand jury investigations about the inflating budget of the Water District, and a fourth investigation is under way. Under criticism, the Water District's extravagant project for the office has been scaled down from about $50 million to about $25 million. It has resulted in underutilization of the old headquarter building.

Another example of wasteful endeavors of the Water District is the construction of a day care facility without a proper assessment of the capacity needed. I stand for providing an effective and efficient day care to every working mother in this country. However, building a facility of ten thousand square feet to serve only twenty kids, as done by the Water District, is not the way to go. It is this kind of mismanagement that leads organizations to erroneously conclude that day care is too expensive!

Let's now look at how the Water District is reducing its role in protecting our groundwater and river resources while increasing its budget. The District has already given the tasks of contamination prevention and polluted groundwater remediation to the County. The District is now ready to also give its permitting authority in the riparian corridors to cities and the County, which will lead to increased pollution and environmental damage along our creeks and their surroundings. Isn't it the duty of our Water Board to safeguard our water and water resources?

So what do taxpayers need from the Board? The Board needs to carry out a complete engineering, economic, and environmental analysis of each project before it is approved. The board needs to discard duplicate and wasteful projects. Each and every alternative of any proposed project must be investigated and optimized using benefit cost analysis. The Board should instruct the Water District to seek all available Federal and State grants for water and flood control projects in order to reduce the cost to our community. The taxpayers and water bill payers should not allow Water District management to become lax and the Board to become ineffective.

It is time to elect a knowledgeable and cost-conscious water resource expert to the Board to control these runaway expenses and the mismanagement. That person is I, Dr. Ram Singh, who will fight for the interests of taxpayers.


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