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MY TURN, Mountain Democrat 2-8-17 rebuttal, Jeff Leddy

MY TURN, Mountain Democrat 2-8-17 rebuttal, Jeff Leddy

My Turn: EID’s arguments don’t hold water

By From page A4 | February 08, 2017

 The recently published Mountain Democrat editorial “Pipe a Public Safety Priority,” Jan. 20, was extremely disappointing.  The article was simply plagiarized from the El Dorado Irrigation District newsletter, The Waterfront, and the author does nothing except spread the exaggerations and false claims that EID would like you to believe.

It is sad to see that my local newspaper appears to have become an EID shill and endorsed a project for which EID has not provided any reliable data or completed the environmental review process. On what, exactly, do they base that opinion? I guess I should not be surprised given that the paper’s long-time editor, Michael Raffety, now sits on the EID board.

This proposed project would pipe a three-mile section of open ditch that runs from Forebay Reservoir to the Gilmore Treatment Facility. The reality is that it faces wide-ranging community objections, will cost ratepayers millions of dollars and fails to meet the stated objectives.

The original, primary purpose of the project, to save 1,300 acre-feet of water annually, is simply not supported by the existing studies, including EID’s own numbers. Members of the EID’s Board of Directors refute the claim of 1,300 acre-feet, which is based on a 1977 claim that has already been successfully refuted in court. So EID has now resorted to fear tactics about contamination of our water supply (a dead skunk, tires, mattresses) to shift our attention away from that shortcoming.

With regard to the water quality issue, there are many miles of open ditch above the upper main ditch and Forebay. Yes, animals could meet their demise and fall in or people could choose to intentionally contaminate any portion of that system. The same is true for the rivers that feed the entire system.

Should we fence off Jenkinson Lake and ban all boating and human contact? Are you aware that the parking lots at Safeway/CVS drain directly down Forebay Road into Forebay Reservoir? I think I’d rather take my chances with a dead skunk once than think about the regular contamination of antifreeze, motor oil and transmission fluid coming from those parking lots. Parking lots that are filled with … you guessed it … tires. None of this will be addressed by piping a three-mile segment of the ditch.

According to the EID Gilmore Road Treatment Facility manager, the piped water will require the same treatment process as it does now. So what are we fixing?

The current situation is a 3-2 vote on the EID board, with those opposed (Greg Prada, Alan Day) pointing to the failure of the proposed project to meet the stated goals and the lack of fiscal responsibility in going forward with it (EID estimates more than $8 million). Those in favor (George Osborne, Raffety, Dale Coco) continue to cherry pick data and utilize fear tactics to justify the project. They do this to make the project eligible for grants, nevermind that the ratepayers will shoulder the greatest burden (more than $5 million by current estimates).

And so you are clear, EID is currently nearly $400 million in debt, not including unfunded pensions and other obligations.  That’s about $10,000 per ratepayer — and the debt just keeps growing despite the fact that they have doubled rates in the past 10 years. It always comes down to a 3-2 vote with Prada and Day as the voice of reason and Osborne, Coco and now Raffety (replacing big spender Bill George) recklessly putting us ever deeper in debt. Perhaps a recall vote is in order.

For those of us who live in Pollock Pines this is also a vital firefighting resource. Many of us do not even have fire hydrants. If you were here during the King Fire that risk is plenty clear. The plain truth is that sections of the ditch just above the Forebay were used as the final defense line that saved large portions of our town. That is a fact and I have the videos to prove it.

When they try to illicit fear of a terrorist plot to contaminate our water, please remember that a box of matches is a much more viable threat so I’d prefer to keep an open ditch, which serves as a three-mile “wet line” and source of firefighting water that protects our town over having a pipe that does neither.

I have lived along the ditch for nearly 20 years and walked the trail many hundreds of times. I’ve never found a dead animal, a tire or a mattress. Trout happily swimming, river otters, crawfish, ducks, songbirds, bobcats — those I see. This historical waterway has been here for 160 years and is part of the rich cultural heritage of this district. The local plant and animal life are adapted to its presence. Walk the trail and you will see pacific yew trees, myriad riparian plant species and the animals that rely on them. It is also a recreation resource used and valued by many of our human neighbors.    

Finally, are you aware that EID already has water rights well in excess of the county’s need, even when the entire General Plan is fully developed? EID sold more water to Southern California last year than the entire amount that flows through the upper main ditch. They have even referred to the past few years as an “administratively created drought” and encouraged us to “turn on the sprinklers.” So give me a break on the “water supply” issue.

The reality is that the state is trying to strip away our rights to any water gained through water conservation efforts anyway. So remember that they are spending your money, and I’m not opposed to wise use, but this project simply doesn’t meet that standard. If you want more information on what you can do to stop this project from going forward visit

Jeff Leddy is a Pollock Pines resident and member of the Save the Canal group.

We are grateful…..#givingtuesday

We are grateful…..#givingtuesday



We, each and every one of us with Save The Canal, are so thankful to all that have shown their support in this effort. We have collectively spent so many long days getting organized, developing strategies, attending board meetings, putting in countless hours sifting through documents….all with one common purpose – to save something that is truly cherished by all of us. We want to let you know how much it means to have the support of so many. Our mountain towns are certainly facing multiple challenges today, but perhaps the best part is experiencing us all joining forces to stand up against those that have shown a disregard for the character and values of our communities.

Yesterday there were a few tears of joy. Joy- in the affirmation that so many share in our vision, share in our determination, share in our commitment. Yes, there are many hurdles in front of us, but having the community come together is sure to put us over the top of each and every one. Together we will win! We had set a goal for #GivingTuesday and thanks to your generosity we have more than met that goal. Yesterday we earned $2814 bringing our total to $8229. We are about 1/3 of the way to meeting our legal expenses and feel very positive about moving forward.

We thank you.

Yesterday, from one of our donors:

“Every time I talk about where I grew up, I talk about “the ‘creek’ below my house”, and my mind flashes right back to it. I have so many wonderful memories of it- -light coming through the trees, the amber color of the sun, through the water. Crawdads, blackberries, big leaves, dogwood trees, time with my parents, and now, time with my own kids, there.”

EID’s Fiscal Irresponsibility

EID’s Fiscal Irresponsibility


El Dorado Irrigation District rates have more than doubled in the last seven years yet EID management wants board approval to continue gouging its ratepayers and increase 2017-18 rates fully 30 times the 0.3 percent increase in 2016-17 Social Security payments.

EID management’s proposed 2017-18 operating budget includes median $131,000 per employee compensation with benefits alone surging an eye-popping 13 percent. Contrast $131,000 compensation for the average EID employee with median per capita income in El Dorado County of only $35,000 in 2014, according to the U.S. Census. Is it fair that ratepayers need to continue to pay higher rates so that EID can provide overly lavish pensions and benefits to its employees?

The two largest cost factors that drive EID rate increases are employee costs and debt costs. Yet EID management has shown no restraint in doling out huge employee benefits and instead has continually burdened ratepayers with higher water and sewer rates. The private sector doesn’t have the luxury of just raising prices to maintain its businesses but since EID is a monopoly, EID management is continuing to demonstrate its view that fiscal restraint and good financial management do not apply.

It takes just three of five EID directors to overrule management and deny the requested 9 percent rate hikes for 2017-18. Come to the Dec. 12 meeting at 9 a.m. and remind the board just whom they were elected to represent.

El Dorado Hills

Giving Tuesday is November 29th-Double your contribution all day long!

Giving Tuesday is November 29th-Double your contribution all day long!

Giving Tuesday is upon us! What would be better than helping to protect a local treasure that is currently under threat? We are Save the Canal and we need your help. Our Mission is to save the El Dorado Canal from a massive piping project in Pollock Pines that will permanently destroy critical resources and a vital part of our community. We are currently building a legal defense fund to defeat this costly and destructive proposed plan.

And NOW is your chance to double your contribution! 

One of the donors to our cause has generously offered to match the next $950 that is donated to our fund, so here is your opportunity to feel twice as good about donating your hard earned dollars to a worthy cause.  Whether it is $5, $50, $100 or more it will be doubled until the matching amount is reached.  Simply visit:


Act now or this resource will be gone forever!

While we do not want to provide every detail about our current efforts to those that are working against us, we do want to share with our supporters some of the goals and accomplishments of Save the Canal.  Our organization has members with diverse backgrounds that will be challenging this project from many fronts.  Save the Canal members have been meeting weekly, attending EID Board meetings, and working hard to develop strong arguments that the proposed project fails to adequately address the loss of many critical resources. Our town hall meeting in November showed strong community support and caught the attention of the Mountain Democrat which has run two front page articles, and also Fox 40 News at 6. Please join us in our efforts to stop this costly, destructive project and together we can win this battle.

Here is a sample of our current efforts:

Legal Defense:  We have retained an attorney that will be representing us in court. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) provides a platform for us to challenge many aspects of this proposed project.  We have also set up a gofundme account ( to accept donations to our legal defense fund.  We have currently received over $8600 in donations, with a final goal of $25,000 to insure our victory in court.     

Lack of Proper Easements:  EID claims to have extensive easements, for wide ranging purposes, on many private properties along the canal.  That is a false claim and they know it. They sent representatives to each property owner in an attempt to attain the required easements, but most property owners have refused to grant it to them.  Therefore their only recourse will be Eminent Domain lawsuits, the cost of which will be an added burden on EID ratepayers.

Fire Fighting Resource:  At the recent town hall meeting EID director Osborne claimed that the Upper Main Ditch (El Dorado Canal) was not a viable resource to be used in fire suppression efforts and therefore would not need to have project considerations to mitigate that loss of resource.  We have strong evidence to refute this claim – In fact the El Dorado Canal may have already served a critical role in saving your home!

Tree Mortality:  EID claims that the project will result in the loss of 200 trees.  While this would be tragic, the real number will be much higher.  We will be laying out the case that thousands of trees will be lost, all of which are on private property.

Economics:  The upper Main Ditch Piping Project does not make fiscal economic sense when the project cost will add at least an additional $5 million dollars on to the already excessive $375 million EID debt. This debt will result in rate increases to EID customers over the next five years: 5% in 2016, 5% in 2017, 4% in 2018, 3% in 2019, and 3% in 2020.

History:  Preserving this historical landmark is one of our goals.  To this end we are applying to the California Historical Landmark and California Points Of Interest.  Either of these originations will permanently protect the canal from further EID conversions.  We are also   applying to the National Register Of Historical  Places which will put this canal under federal protection.  Our specific committee has done extensive historical research to help facilitate this nomination and acceptance.

Critical Riparian Habitat:  Although the El Dorado Canal is a manmade waterway, it has been flowing for more than 150 years allowing for the development of a rich riparian habitat. These stream-side habitats are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on Earth and they support a myriad of plant and animal species.  EID’s proposed piping plan would permanently destroy this valuable ecological resource. Save The Canal includes members with expertise in forestry and environmental science that will demonstrate that this project would result in significant and unavoidable environmental impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated.

Water Loss Summary:
EID claims that the upper main ditch loses 1300 acre feet of water annually despite several studies performed by contracted companies that contradict that number. They knowingly use this inflated water loss number to justify the cost of the piping project and when applying for grants. Save The Canal will demonstrate that EID’s exaggerated water loss numbers are based on equipment with known calibration problems and a flawed study design which fails to adequately address seasonal variations and raw water customers that draw directly from the ditch.

Water Quality:
EID would like you to believe that piping the upper main ditch will result in improved water quality and a safer water supply.  They further claim that the piping project will result in lower treatment costs. However, this project will do nothing to address the miles of open ditch upstream or the direct inputs into Forebay Lake. Save the Canal will make the case that the required water treatment process and the cost will remain basically unchanged and there will be no improvement to the quality of the delivered drinking water to justify the project cost, which is paid for by rate payers.

We ARE Save the Canal

We ARE Save the Canal

Read at the EID Board Meeting on November 14, 2016

We are submitting these comments to be included in the minutes.

We are Save the El Dorado Canal and we contend that the decision to approve the initial study of the Upper Main Ditch piping project by the EID Board of Director’s was the result of inadequate district preparation and based on insufficient information, data and research.
We contend that this project is not worth moving forward for the following reasons:

  • The Upper Main Ditch project is a financially irresponsible plan that does not adequately consider the historic, ecological, recreation and fire suppression values that it provides to our community nor the plants and wildlife that rely on it, and further that it fails to provide the benefits claimed.
  • EID has resorted to making an exaggerated claim of water loss based on a 1970’s water study. Current loss figures vary—500 acre feet, 1090 acre feet, 1300 acre feet. EID’s studies are grossly inadequate and current flow meters have functionality issues, so the resulting data is both contradictory and unreliable. There is no justification in EID’s claims of water savings.
  • The fear tactics regarding water quality degradation are unfounded. The Forebay will remain open and unsecured with large inputs of storm drainage, so this project will have little value for improved water quality or security. Tests show the water is perfectly good to drink.
  • Whether the water is flowing down the ditch or through a pipe, it will need to be treated for consumption.  Is there really sufficient data showing a substantial reduction in treatment costs to justify spending $9-$12 million on this project? (pause)
  • EID’s ballooning $400,000,000 debt, already in excess of $10,000 ten thousand dollars per rate payer, will be increased for an unnecessary project resulting in further increases to rate payers’ bills.
  • There will be a loss of a firefighting resource, especially to areas with no hydrants, and the proposed project fails to mitigate this loss of a critical resource.
  • There will be a loss of a unique Gold Rush Era cultural and historical resource.
  • There will be a loss of a beautiful waterway and ecosystem critical to a myriad of wildlife species and diverse riparian plant community.
  • There will be a loss of a vital recreational resource used by many in our community.
  • The project adversely affects fifty plus property owners’ quality of life, right to quiet enjoyment, and will cause a reduction to property values.
  • There will be significant tree mortality both directly from the construction, and for many years following construction due to the loss of available water.  This will result in increased risk to our homes and personal safety, and additional landowner costs for tree removal.
  • There will be additional costs added to this proposed project from lawsuits related to unsecured easements and CEQA, EIR requirements.  Lawsuits will delay this project and projected cost will increase substantially.

Due to these deficiencies we request this subject to be included in the agenda with a request to the Board of Director’s to vote to abandon this proposed project.  Thank you.