Morada, a small farming community of around 5,000 in the unincorporated area of San Joaquin County, is bounded on the north by Bear Creek, south by Calaveras River, west by Highway 99 and east by Alpine Road. We are dependent on wells for our water — ag wells, domestic and community wells and septic systems for waste disposal.
Just west of Morada, across Highway 99, is a city of Stockton municipal well field. These large "muni" wells pump groundwater into the COS water grid, which is largely dependent on groundwater for its overall need. This COS pumping causes a "draw-down" on Morada's groundwater level, which equates to users having to deepen or develop new wells and/or lower pumps, making power to pull up the deeper water more expensive. This COS water policy threatens Morada's water supply and our wallets.
COS' Delta Water Supply Project is touted as the city's answer to its groundwater dependency, and after $30 million in cost over-runs, is finally ready to go online with its first of three phases. But the bankrupt COS faces a high rate of foreclosures, vacant properties, unemployment and personal bankruptcies, all of which lend to the profuse bleeding of the city's lifeblood — growth.
Recently, a majority of North Morada residents (aka CSA46) rejected a (Proposition 218 process) "water tax" increase the county says it needs for maintenance and repairs on its aging infrastructure. Residents ask: Why are these benefit districts broke? Shouldn't moneys have been set aside in "earmarked" accounts for upkeep and improvements? Did these funds wind up in the county's General Fund? And doesn't the county owe CSA46 a new community well for the "Willows?"
Morada has long been the target of city annexation and has resisted all attempts, but it's rumored that the county would like to dump this problem. Because the bankrupt COS and its DWSP is floundering under the weight of cost over-runs, the need for new connections and fees, the poor economy, and funding for the remaining two phases of the DWSP questionable, the COS will again offer Morada city services at a sizable cost but with "easy financing." After all, Morada sits atop the best groundwater in the county and, of course, annexation accompanies city services.
William Van Amber Fields