Robert Gilchrist Huenemann July 18, 2023
The 2023/2024 WRASBC budget and comments can be found on the adjacent pages. You might want to know how your money is being used to tell you that you cannot have a garden, a patch of lawn, or a toilet that actually flushes.
The WRASBC (Water Resources Association of San Benito County) and the SBCWD (San Benito County water District) are mentioned briefly on my other web pages. On this page I will do a deep dive into the relationship between WRASBC and SBCWD.
The WRASBC has a telephone number (637-4578). The SBCWD has a different telephone number (637-8281). The WRASBC has a web site. The SBCWD also has a web site. If you take a casual look at these web sites, you might think that they are two totally separate, independent water agencies. Think again. The WRASBC contact information and the SBCWD contact information are identical except for the telephone numbers. They have the same address (30 Mansfield Road) and the same post office box (Box 899). You might as well call it the WRASBC/SBCWD, because that is what it is.
The SBCWD organizational chart can be found at ABOUT US on the SBCWD web site. It shows a full time Water Conservation Program Manager and a half time Water Conservation Representative. The title of ‘Water Conservation Program Manager’ sounds impressive when bandied about in WRASBC propaganda, but this ‘Manager’ has an SBCWD email address and was paid $92,224 out of the SBCWD payroll. There is no public record of any WRASBC employees ever being paid anything, because the WRASBC only exists on paper. The WRASBC meeting agendas and budget are prepared by SBCWD staff members.
The WRASBC contact page states that “The Water Resources Association is a non-profit corporation governed by representatives from the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, Sunnyslope County Water District and the San Benito County Water District”. These agency representatives form a ‘committee’ that meets six times a year. Their agendas appear under THIS MONTH at the bottom of the WRASBC home page. Where does this ‘committee’ meet? You guessed it – at the SBCWD headquarters at 30 Mansfield Road. What do they do? They rubber stamp the agendas and budget prepared by the SBCWD staff.
How are the WRASBC Committee members chosen? They represent the agencies that contribute money to the WRASBC budget. If you get water from any of these agencies (City of Hollister, City of San Juan Bautista, Sunnyslope County Water District, San Benito County Water District), you are paying for the WRASBC. What does the WRASBC do with your money? You have seen their ads. They tell you that you can’t have a patch of lawn, a real shower or a toilet that actually flushes. Isn’t that sweet? The WRASBC uses YOUR money to tell you how to use YOUR water.
This makes perfect sense when you realize that the SBCWD Board of Directors is totally controlled by agribusiness. Three of the SBCWD Board members have jobs in agribusiness. The other two are shills who dutifully vote with the agribusiness majority, every single time. And what does agribusiness want? Keep in mind that agribusiness gets 80 percent of the water in San Benito County, and that you pay 80 percent of the cost of running the WRASBC/SBCWD. But agribusiness is not satisfied with 80 percent. They want even more of the water in this county, and they want you to pay every single penny of WRASBC/SBCWD cost. WRASBC/SBCWD is part of the agribusiness scheme to take more of your water and to force you to pay more for the dribble of water that you get.
If no one else runs for the SBCWD Board of Directors, the incumbents get reelected automatically every four years without even appearing on the ballot. Anyone can run for this Board. If I can do it, you can do it. It doesn’t cost a penny to run. It takes a few minutes to sign up at the office of the San Benito County Registrar of Voters at 440 Fifth Street. Or call for more information, dates, etc. The number for the Elections office is 831-636-4016. What is your excuse for letting agribusiness run the WRASBC/SBCWD?
Agribusiness tells you that you will starve if you don’t give them everything they want on a silver platter. Many people fall for this lie. I am not one of those people.
Agribusiness tells you that they use water efficiently. Many people fall for this lie. I am not one of those people. There are many ways that agribusiness could use water more efficiently – too many ways to discuss here. But there is a simple way to reduce agribusiness water use without elaborate new agencies and regulations. The simple way to reduce agribusiness water use is to charge agribusiness more for their water. Urban well water users pay SBCWD three times as much as agribusiness well water users. It does not have to be this way. Charge agribusiness as much as agribusiness charges you. They will figure out how to use water more efficiently, and they will do it overnight.
The San Benito County Supervisors have close ties to agribusiness. The county refuses to enforce regulations, like the one on abandoned vehicles, if they involve agribusiness. Agribusiness is taught at the local high school. San Benito County has a Department of Agriculture. The San Benito County Fair shamelessly promotes agribusiness with your tax dollars. The Farm Bureau operates in San Benito County, statewide, and nationally. Don’t forget the San Benito County Cattlemen (and Women). Agribusiness has lots of front organizations with names like ‘Protect the Harvest’. BenitoLink has large agribusiness donors and will never publish a single word that is critical of agribusiness. One local legal firm caters specifically to agribusiness. The United States Departments of Agriculture and Interior openly favor agribusiness. Agribusiness contributes generously to both major political parties, and they are handsomely rewarded with subsidies that you pay for with your tax dollars.
I have been following agribusiness water issues in San Benito County since the day I bought my property here in 1983. I have nothing against agribusiness. But I see no reason to subsidize agribusiness, or any other business. I thank you for taking the time to read all of this, and I thank you for voting for me in 2014, 2018 and 2022.
I am the only member of the SBCWD Board (2014-2018) who has ever voted against raising your water bill.