MWD Chairman In The Tank

by CalWatchdog Staff | October 13, 2010 9:12 am

Please see the comments and corrections posted at the end of this story.

OCT. 13, 2010


An old fashioned method of water conservation was to put a brick in the water tank of your toilet.  The Metropolitan Water District, the regional water purveyor for the southern half of the state, put its presiding board chairman, Tim Brick, in the tank on Tuesday.

Brick, a water conservationist who paradoxically opposed the construction of the Peripheral Canal on the 1982 California election ballot, was ousted as chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He had served as chairman since 2005.

The MWD Board of Directors couldn’t have picked a more opposite member of their board for a replacement.

New Board Chair John V. Foley, is a former MWD board chairman, former general manager of two different Orange County water districts, a retired Army colonel who was active in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, with engineering and math degrees from West Point, MIT, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Foley formerly beat out Brick for chairman of the board in 1993.

Brick came to MWD in 1985 from the city of Pasadena where he was chairman of the citizen’s advisory commission to the water and power department, was founder of a non-profit foundation for preservation of a local stream bed, served on the Pasadena AIDS coordinating committee, is a member of the Nature Conservancy, with a degree in philosophy from Cal State Los Angeles.  Brick was MWD’s first fully “environmental” chairman.

Brick made himself unpopular with some of MWD’s member water agencies and water ratepayers recently by punching through a 15 percent water rate hike to fund increases in retirement benefits for MWD employees and refusing to cut out costly landscaping and recreation capital projects opposed by its member agency the San Diego County Water Authority[1].[2]

Although the vote for Foley was unanimous on the surface, apparently, the older coalition of LADWP, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Central and Coastal Basin water districts lost out to the Orange County, San Diego, Ventura and Inland Empire coalition.

Brick reportedly bowed out as chairman at the board meeting after finding out he didn’t have enough votes to be re-elected. Foley beat out Vice Chairman Tony Fellows from the San Gabriel Valley Water District since Fellows would only have gotten the votes Brick would have received.

It is unclear if Foley will replace MWD’s management team or form a layer of executive management over the existing managerial team as former board chairman Philip Pace did in 2001.  Whether MWD will shift away from environmentalism back toward engineering remains to be seen.

Brick also came under criticism in 2009 in his home town of Pasadena from David Powell, P.E., a Cal-Tech trained water engineer, former head of planning for the San Diego Office of the State Department of Water Resources, chief engineer for Bookman Edmonston Engineering, and court-appointed special master for the Colorado River Compact.  Powell questioned whether the water rate hikes were justified by Brick’s alleged drought and inferred that if Brick had not taken the lead to oppose the Peripheral Canal in 1982 the environmental problems of the Sacramento Delta would not have occurred[3]. Powell later called for the city of Pasadena to pull out of its membership in the regional MWD if it was unable to plan for normal dry spells.

Brick also came under criticism for calling a normal dry spell a “drought”[4] as a justification for the proposed $11.1 billion state water bond to have been put before the voters as Proposition 18 on the November 2010 ballot.

Due to the anti-tax mood of the electorate the Legislature and the governor pulled Prop. 18 from the ballot until 2012. Mr. Brick’s chances of re-election may have gone down the proverbial tube when Prop. 18 was pulled.  Prop. 18 did not include providing for the construction of the Peripheral Canal mainly due to opposition of environmentalists and Sacramento Delta interests.

  1. San Diego County Water Authority:
  2. :
  3. Sacramento Delta would not have occurred:
  4. calling a normal dry spell a “drought”:–-howling-about-drought-–-all-wet-–-no-more-doubts-officials-exaggerate

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