Tuesday, October 7, 2014

• Q&A With EVMWD Board of Directors Candidate George Cambero

I had the chance to sit down with George Cambero and discuss all things water. I'm not much of a taskmaster during chat sessions with people, and many of the questions did not get simple answers that would lead to a succinctly written blog. When a person starts to get into story mode I let them speak. It's only after getting home, listening to the recording, that I find out how concise, or not, they were.

It was a pleasant conversation with George, but it really didn't translate as well as I'd hoped into a blog. I can tell that he's passionate about water, and what goes into getting water from the source to the consumer. He also has a ton of experience when it comes to water. I just wish the hour I spent with him was something easier to encapsulate here.

If you've read any of my Better Know A City Council Candidate blogs, you've seen that, in those, I added a lot of questions to help you know the person better. I didn't choose to do that with the candidates for the EVMWD race. This was more of a What's the job about? What are your qualifications? kind of things.

With that in mind, the first question I had for him was:

WR: What is the difference between EVMWD and Western Municipal Water District?
 GC:  Western Municipal Water District is like the water master. It's a member agency of Metropolitan Water District. Metroplitan is the Water Contractor; the wholesalers. For example: EVMWD is a sub member agency of Metropolitan Water District. 

WR: Where do you stand on rate increases?
 GC:  Basically I don't agree with the way they do it. If I get elected I would take more of an aggressive stance on educating the people as to the way it works. 
George proceeded to tell me the way that water agencies use Prop 218 to raise rates and at the same time protect their chances for reelection. I have the conversation recorded, but it really was a difficult story for me to paraphrase properly, so I'm leaving that part out. I'm sure that if you'd like to contact George, he'd be happy to give you the details that I'm not able to here.

WR: Speak about possible fines for wasting water. (Specifically speaking about the $500 fines, authorized by Sacramento, that made the news this Summer).
 GC:  They (EVMWD) haven't gone through the process to create an ordinance... [without doing so] it doesn't mean anything. To me it's more of a revenue type of deal. 

WR: If elected, how accessible will you be to the rate payers?
 GC:  Just like right now (alluding to our meeting) open; very open.

WR: A lot of voters really aren't up on what all the offices are actually about, what is the name of the seat that you're running for... and what are the boundaries of it?
 GC:  EVMWD Board of Directors, Wildomar/Lakeland Village Division 3

WR: What responsibilities does that job have?
 GC:  To oversee what's going on within your, I'm not going to say "District or Division", to me a person can't just say, "I'm only going to represent Wildomar and Lakeland Village"... it's really not true. You, as a board member, you have the responsibility of the whole district. It goes back to "experience counts" I'm going to put my experience to work.

When you say, "We're in a drought"... well we're in a drought in a way because... the position that we're in is our fault. Number one is, if we are in a so called drought, why do we keep approving thousands of homes to be built?

The State of California says that if you allow [developers] to build a housing development, you have to guarantee them water for twenty years. 

WR:  To me, 20 years isn't NEARLY long enough of a guarantee. 

Do you know about the $7.5B bond on this November's ballot? They downsized it from $11.3B because they were afraid that the voters would not go for it. They're using the drought as a [fear tactic], saying "drought, drought, drought". So it's on people's minds, [and they think] "We do need it" (the bonds measure). But the problem with that is that really no one oversees where the money goes. Proposition 13 (2000 Water Bond), proposition 50, all of those were multi-billion dollar bonds —what do (did) they do with the money?

WR: I basically vote NO on all new bonds.
 GC:  Myself, being in this type of business [my opinion is], for the most part, they don't use it (the bond money) wisely. 40% of the $7.5B was going to build two new large reservoirs; Central Valley and Northern California, none for Southern California. Where do we need them? Over here [in SoCal]. We have several reservoirs but they aren't big enough. The largest one is Diamond Valley Lake —800,000 acre feet. We need at least two or three [more] of those in the area. 

WR: What experience do you have that makes you ready to do this job?
 GC:  32 years on the job (water production supervisor), 5 years as a consultant in the industry. I know where the water is. 

WR: What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?
 GC:  What makes me the best candidate is because water is second nature to me. I just love to know more... you just never know enough. I'm always researching. 

I like to say, If your car won't start, don't call me. If you want to sell or buy a house, don't call me. If you want me to cook —no— because you won't even eat my food... but if you want me to deal with the drought, yes I can... or anything that has to do with water.

WR: Finish this sentence: Dear Voter, Vote for me because...
 GC:  Vote for me because I'm the perfect candidate for water related things. Vote for me because experience counts. This is where you need me to deal with [your] water issues.

I'm proposing that we do a regional Water Master Plan. When I say Regional, I just want to do deal with Elsinore (EVMWD). 

I'm sure that most of you already were aware of the following, but it wasn't something I was overly familiar with.

Authorized under the Municipal Water District Act of 1911, EMWD's duties and responsibilities are further delineated in the California Water Code. In 1951, EMWD annexed to The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

As with many other public entities, EMWD is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain, to levy and collect taxes, to fix, revise and collect rates or other charges. The district may also issue bonds, borrow money and incur indebtedness.

Municipal water and sewer rates are not subject to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of California. EMWD customers instead are represented by a board of five directors. They are elected by registered voters to four-year terms in divisions representing comparably sized populations..

Here is contact info for George Cambero.


I'm not here to endorse any candidate, and I'm assuming that the candidates are giving it to me straight. If a reader thinks some of the above needs correcting, then please use the comment section to do it. 

I've put requests out to the other two candidates, but haven't been able to set a time up for an interview. The window is just about closed on the offer at this point.

My expertise on water is limited to my dominance on Surf Hill at Wild Rivers in Irvine. Had you ever been in an adjacent lane, when I was going down that hill, I could have given you a three second head start, and I still would have blown your doors off.


  1. I met George when he and I served on an economic development committee around ten years ago. My first comment to the committee was whether we could take dirt offered for free from one property to fill the swamp that's troubling another property. George took me on a tour of the community's water infrastructure and got me to appreciate that even a minor tweak to the drainage will have consequences that have to be carefully planned for. He was very helpful, and I would like to see him on the EVMWD board.

  2. I don't think you'll hear back from the other candidates. The incumbent didn't even show up at the forum and the other would have to "look into" solutions. George won the endorsement of the Employees Association yesterday. Please vote on knowledge and experience as a water expert. Hands down George can run rings around the others.

  3. I actually spoke with the incumbent, and the only reason she wasn't at the forum was because she had a doctor appointment she couldn't reschedule. I also spoke with her at length about water issues, and the lady knows her stuff. (By the way, she informed the organizers that she couldn't make it and why, but apparently it wasn't made public. The Wildomar Candidate Forum was scheduled based on all of the candidates' availability; I guess whoever set up the forum for the water district didn't care whether or not all the candidates could be there). I also heard elsewhere that Mr. Cambero quit the water district before he could be fired. True or not, it certainly makes me suspect. Just goes to show that you need information on ALL the candidates before you can make an informed choice.


Let's hear what you have to say... for other inquiries try the email listed under "view my complete profile" but if you want to discuss a blog topic, I'll only do it in this comment section, not by email.

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