The topic on most folk’s minds was front-and-center at last Tuesday’s (August 31) Board of Supervisors meeting where they unanimously approved two agenda items dealing with this monumental drought.
Overall, I think they probably did the best they could concerning circumstances surrounding one of the items we’ll discuss.
The Supes approved a motion directing county staff “to Draft an Urgency Ordinance Regarding the Prohibition of Water Hauling from One Source to Another Except for Health and Human Safety or Permitted Businesses.”
Due to Pandemic restrictions meetings are still closed to the public, so I addressed the Board on conference call regarding this issue and here’s what I said:
The Laytonville County Water District disagrees with the County’s approach regarding the proposed Urgency Ordinance because it is overbroad and reaches into areas of legitimate governing authority of local government-municipal water utilities.
We believe that entities currently providing water for trucked delivery should be divided or bifurcated into two separate categories providing such services: 1. Public Water Agencies, and 2. Private Parties.
The former are all permitted and regulated under the authority of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board and other governmental agencies), while the latter are not under the control or regulated by any governmental entity.
As a matter of public policy and good government, the determination of whether or not to impose prohibitions on ‘Water Hauling from One Source to Another Except for Health and Human Safety or Permitted Businesses,’ is best left to the discretion of municipal water agencies with their elected boards that are responsible to their respective electorates.
I have some familiarity with the ordinances, rules and regulations of the primary water agencies in this County that provide water for delivery by truck. Some of the common provisions found in these ordinances, rules and regulations that are similar to those of this District, would include: water quality control measures, metered usage, the authority to restrict or prohibit deliveries to certain areas, the authority to prohibit water deliveries on specified roads or over specified bridges, truck operator codes of conduct, truck operator discipline procedures, truck operator revocation procedures, and public complaint investigation procedures.
Public Agency water sources and operations are by law approved, permitted and regularly inspected by the State Water Board and other governmental agencies.
Needless to say, so-called Private Party water sources, operations, and water truck deliveries are under few if any government controls, rules or regulations.
It is commonly known that Private Party water truck deliveries have for some time been problematical and the cause of legitimate concern by County residents because of the nearly total lack of governmental oversight.
It’s also an established fact, according to reports from resource agencies and law enforcement, that water for these deliveries sometimes are illegally taken from sources throughout our County.
It is also a fact that numerous owners of private wells are selling/providing, and have been selling/providing water to Private Party water haulers. Neighbors of the owners of these private wells have alleged that these operations have adversely impacted their wells.
The Laytonville County Water District recommends that the Board of Supervisors:
1. Continue to allow Public Water Agencies to determine the scope of water hauling operations, including any prohibitions on water hauling.
2. Prepare an ordinance that would address a private well permitting process for the commercial sale of water for truck deliveries. This permitting process should include required hydrological testing for impacts on nearby water sources and wells.
3. Prepare an ordinance addressing rules and regulations governing Private Party water haulers who do not obtain their water from a Public Agency Water Utility.
Third District Supe John Haschak formulated the motion approved by his colleagues that calls for the Board’s Drought Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of Haschak and 1st District Supe Glenn McGourty to work with the County Counsel’s Office, the Sheriff, and Planning & Building to come up with a proposal that would require tighter regulations for water deliveries by truck that would include such things as driver logs or manifests that detail who is receiving the water, how many gallons, restrict operations to daylight hours, etc.
By the way, these are all rules and regulations my water district has had in place for years.
They also agreed to look at what I recommended regarding regulating property owners who sell/provide water from their private wells without regard to adverse impacts on neighbor’s wells. I proposed that the new ordinance situation should require hydrological testing be performed as part of the permit process to determine the reliability of the water well’s source and any adverse impacts on neighbor’s wells and water sources.
My Rights, Your Rights
Since we are in serious trouble in this County with COVID surging once again, I’ve been recommending on my KPFN radio show and in my newspaper, the Mendocino County Observer, that the unvaccinated get the jab.
Dr. John Glyer, of Willits, recently issued this statement that helped spur my comments:
“Our hospital is under siege from unvaccinated people under 65. Designed to hold 25 patients, we now have 37 with our Covid overflow plan. We have 14 Covid patients including all 4 filling our ICU. This includes 4 patients in their 40's, 6 patients in their 50's, and 4 above 60. The Delta Covid variant is unbelievably contagious and also deadly. Before July 31 we had 1 death in our county in almost 2 months. Now in less than a month we have had 11 dead. Those of you who are unvaccinated, it is not too late and it is very easy and very safe. I personally verify that your vaccination will be safe. If you want me to personally provide your vaccine, I have Moderna and Johnson and Johnson available. This is no time to hold back based on easily disproved fears or beliefs. Protect yourself, your family, your friends, your community.”
A reader responded, taking exception to my vaccination callout.
I am writing in response to your endorsement of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comment “…screw your freedom” when it comes to Covid19. The reason Freedom of the Press was so important to our founding fathers was that the press was supposed to be the quasi-4th Branch of Government. They were supposed to be the eyes and ears of the people to keep us informed of our government and elected officials who try to erode our rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The press is on the side of the people, not the government. Benjamin Franklin stated: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” (1706-1790). To validate a former government official’s comment to “…screw your freedom…” is not doing your job, Jim. We are a free society, and anyone who says contrary should be called out.
I agree with Arnold when he said “…with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities….” As citizens we do have responsibilities to help everyone stay safe and feel safe. But, Jim, to validate the thinking that we should relinquish our freedom, encourage the bullying and name calling of others, disregarding each person’s right to personal medical decisions and privacy, and discount an individual’s ability to think for themselves as they weigh the risks and benefits of vaccinations when there are other documented and proven treatments, is shameful on your part.
I would like to encourage a little compassion and patience for everyone as we move through this time of uncertainty. Contempt, name calling, belittling, and arguing will never get us anywhere. Let’s talk to each other, listen to each other, and do the best each of us can. We are all in this together. I’d like to remind us of a verse from a sacred writing: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I have faith that we will get through this. I hope we will be considerate of each other as we move forward. I read somewhere else that “…love never fails.” Let’s try a little love.
My thoughts? When the exercise of your “individual freedom” affects the health, safety and well-being of other folks, you’ve crossed the line. As the old saying goes, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where my nose begins.”
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)