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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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Special District

Coachella Valley Water DistrictCandidate for Director, Division 2

Photo of Sergio L. Nuñez

Sergio L. Nuñez

Gas Chromatography Analyst
2,672 votes (10.5%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Keep defending the valley's water right against competing metropolitan regions.
  • Continue delivering a consistently safe, reliable water supply at a reasonable cost.
  • Lobby for the Salton Sea to prevent future air quality issues.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Environmental Consultant / Gas Chromatography Analyst
Gas Chromatography Analyst, Colorado Groundwater Resource Services, Inc. (2009–current)

Education

Univerity of California, Irvine B.A. Environmental Analysis and Design, Urban Planning & Water Policy (2002)

Biography

http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/11/06/ca/rv/vote/nunez_s/

 

http://calopinion.com/2012/08/desert-sun-nunez-is-best-equipped-to-be-a-cvwd-director/

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (1)

  • http://calopinion.com/2012/08/desert-sun-nunez-is-best-equipped-to-be-a-cvwd-director/

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Desert Sun Newspaper Questionnare

Summary

I will not hold back and soft shoe dance my way back from a difficult question.  I have conviction, vision and comassion for the Coachella Valley Water District.  I am up front, transparent and fair.

Coachella Valley Water District

Name:  Sergio L Núñez

Education: University of California, Irvine   Major: Environmental Analysis and Design

QUESTIONNAIRE (please limit answers to 150 words)

Do you think the board was right to raise rates and adjust the rate structure to make customers’ individualized water budgets stricter? Would you support the additional proposed rate hikes that the district has laid out through 2020? 

No, it’s incorrect that the CVWD board has chosen to take this path.  The dirty little secret is that we have a surplus of water; about 200,000 acre feet. The way it was taught to me and is written in the history books, is that our water comes from the Colorado Rockies and not from the California Sierras. Yet we the Lower Colorado Desert region are asked to cutback 36%  and metropolitan urban areas to only cutback as low as 25%. We are the ones with superior water rights, not them!  Imperial Irrigation District board members know this very well and it is reflected in the way they protect their superior water rights.  I would support a flat rate or a larger allocated tier 1. A weak board member makes for weak water rights and land with no water rights is worthless. So, we better start getting accustomed to lowering property values; if we don’t insist on having a strong board of directors.

 

CVWD is embarking on its costliest infrastructure project ever: a $250 million plan to build treatment plants to remove chromium-6. At the same time, CVWD board members have raised the possibility of joining a lawsuit against the state to challenge the new chromium-6 limit. Do you think that’s the right approach, and is it the most cost-effective strategy for meeting the new state standard? 

CVWD should not follow in the footsteps of Flint Michigan.  We must always keep the health and safety of the public as our top priority.   However, the metabolization of chromium-6 (Cr-6) is not fully understood and more research needs to be performed to determine a true safe level for human consumption.  Take for example a glass of water that has Cr-6; the simple act of juicing a wedge of lemon into that glass will lower the levels of Cr-6 and by the time that glass of water is consumed, the stomach acids will further degrade the levels of Cr-6. The small town of Hinkley, CA portrayed in the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich had Cr-6 consumption of 5ppb and yet my community has been drinking levels of 20ppb. Where are the epidemiologist, crying out that we have a cancer cluster? We truly don’t know what a safe level is but we must find out to make safe and financially responsible decisions.

CVWD customers reduced their water use by a cumulative 25.3 percent between June 2015 and June 2016 as compared to 2013, but missed the state-mandated target. When the state recently allowed districts to “self-certify” their own conservation goals, CVWD and other agencies in the desert announced goals of zero percent. Do you think CVWD has done enough to encourage conservation during the drought?

The CVWD has made great strides in meeting conservation goals.  Homeowners have led that effort, but through observation, one can see that commercial water users have fallen behind residential water users in conservation efforts.  Hotel toilets, faucets, showers and landscaping can go days or week until a leak is detected and eventually schedule for repair. Continuing education, rebate programs and enforcement will always be a part of living in an arid region; even in non drought years.

 

Do you think CVWD is adequately addressing the problem of groundwater overdraft over the long-term?  

Since the implementation of the groundwater replenishment facilities and the use of Colorado surplus waters to recharge the aquifer, groundwater levels have improved and shown levels of response, minimal, delayed or muted.  The continuance of such program is crucial in the management of groundwater levels. In addition, the implementation of replenishment assessment charges reminds users to use water wisely and also offset some of the cost of the groundwater replenishment operations. However, the program must be incorporated alongside with the Salt and Nutrient Management Plan. As our friends and first people of this land have express in their complaint, local tribes are concerned with salt migration into the aquifer. Just as drip irrigation is not sustainable for the long term and agriculture farm land without drainage tiles, so will the aquifer become saline. We must manage our natural resources for millenniums, not centuries.

 

As part of its long-term water management plans, the district is counting on increasing amounts of water from the Colorado River. CVWD secured gradually increasing deliveries of water from the river under a 2003 water transfer deal. But the Colorado River is severely over allocated. Talks are underway about sharing voluntary cutbacks in order to prevent a more severe shortage at Lake Mead, which has recently fallen to record low levels. Do you think it’s prudent for CVWD to count on receiving all of that water from the Colorado River when drafting long-term plans?

We must always defend our secured water deliveries, regardless of Colorado River over allocations.  But headless self interest is not just bad morals; it is bad economics (FDR). We must work with our neighbors to secure a reliable supply of water for the prosperity of our communities and nation.  In addition, they need to alongside any voluntary commitment; work with us to develop long-term solution to the Salton Sea.  The implementation of a siphon line from the Sea of Cortez or Laguna Salada to the Salton Sea will be our salvation.  Siphon: a tube used to convey liquid upwards from a reservoir and then down to a lower level of its own accord. Once the liquid has been forced into the tube, typically by suction or immersion, flow continues unaided. The Salton Sea’s time has come and our neighbors must work with us, as we work with them.

 

Do you think the water district should change how it operates in some ways to better prepare for the effects of climate change, which scientists say is likely to significantly reduce the flow of the Colorado River?

Yes, we must change our behavior to reflect the supply of limited resources. A species that doesn’t adapt and evolve to its environment, will become extinct.  The implementation of Xeriscaping will become a large part of our future. Homeowners must continue the evolution of efficient water use.   Water is not a one-time use resource; it can be treated and cleaned for reuse. The development of end user recycling programs would help with extending homeowners water budgets by using less water for their landscaping.  The use of gray water from dishwasher, showers, sinks and washers could meet the need of homeowners landscaping.  Gray-water is relative clean used water with for the exception of toilet water called Black-water.

 

Golf courses were supposed to use 25 percent less water during the past year, but records show the desert’s golf courses ended up cutting back just 8 percent. Should CVWD be doing more to bring about bigger water savings by golf courses? And if so, how? Through more enforcement, more grass-removal rebates, or other incentives?

Golf courses have a difficult task in reducing water use.  CVWD should keep helping the industry develop high efficient Golf courses that use less water, but still are aesthetically pleasing; example Desert Willow.  The rebate program has helped many homeowners and businesses reduce water use and still maintain beautiful landscaping. The recycling water program, for use on golf course landscaping, has reduced groundwater overdraft and needs to be pursued further.

 

The board recently voted to approve controversial new guidelines that allow for water from the Colorado River to be supplied in a larger zone than in the past, potentially opening up several thousand acres of desert to farming. CVWD has also proposed a pipeline to carry Colorado River water to farmland in the Oasis area. Do you support those decisions?

The district must continue to show that it’s using water allocations to their fullest beneficial use.  Surplus Colorado River water is vulnerable to competing metropolitan regions.  Putting water to work for the purpose it was first brought to the desert is an exceptional purpose; to feed the nation and now the world.  In the recent past we have lost large amount of acreage to urban growth. Opening up new areas would replenish lost agriculture land.  However, a select small group would benefit from the construction of pipelines to carry water to the Oasis area.  First, those who would benefit the most should contribute more. Second, construction cost should not exceed initial budget; all externalities should be accounted for.  It’s not fair for other rate payers to absorb construction cost overruns for infrastructure they will never receive beneficial use out of.  Overall I would support the expansion of beneficial water use in the district: including Golf!

 

Agricultural water use in the Coachella Valley has increased in the past few years. (The area’s farms used 4 percent more water during the 12-month period ending in May as compared to 2013.) Do you think farms in the Coachella Valley should conserve more? And what can be done to more efficiently use water in the agriculture sector? 

Unfortunately, not much can be done to reduce water consumption in the agriculture sector. No water, no food. Drip irrigation is not a long term solution. The salinity over time will build up and eventually would no longer sustain agriculture.  Best management practice could be implemented to reduce some water uses.  The utilization of MGO crops that are more drought resistant and need less water to produce similar yields as traditional crops may be our best alternative. Yet, market push back may limit the number of crop varieties that are accepted by the consumer. One should not focus on how much water was used in farming, from one year to another, but what is the yield per acre foot.  Instead of focusing on using less water; farming would be best served by increasing yield per acre foot water utilized. The American and Coachella Canals where built for the purpose of farming and to feed the nation.

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