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Concerns regarding Weybret, water board

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Posted: Friday, September 7, 2007 10:00 pm


In response to Mr. Fred Weybret's editorial in the Sept. 1 News-Sentinel: Mr. Fred Weybret is the owner of the Lodi News-Sentinel. Mr. Weybret is also the driving force on the local Water Board - the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District - and has been on this Water Board for about 30 years.

Some would say that Mr. Weybret is the Water Board, as he is also the News-Sentinel.

The Water Board is using smoke and mirrors (printed in the News-Sentinel) to drain our aquifer, while claiming to save it.

Mr. Weybret admits his Water Board got it wrong for the past 30 years (our aquifer is severely depleted), but he is still asking for our continued support.

Other pertinent facts:

1. Mr. Weybret's Water Board proposition is not only illogical, it is illegal (that is why he is trying to change the law).

2. Mr. Weybret's Water Board has testified that subdivisions use less water than farms. This is very untrue; a total fabrication.

3. Mr. Weybret's Water Board has testified that the absorption rate for water dumped on the ground is 70 percent. If this were true, we wouldn't have a water problem.

4. Mr. Weybret's Water Board is pushing flood irrigation over drip irrigation. A stupid move, and a waste of water.

5. Mr. Weybret's Water Board is willing to let the East Bay Municipal Utility District install 100 horsepower pumps to drain our aquifer. A really dumb illegal operation.

6. Mr. Weybret has admitted guilt in dumping industrial waste into Lodi's sewer system. He paid a million-dollar fine. Unfortunately, the rest of the cleanup is being passed on to the citizens of Lodi, and their grandchildren.

7. Mr. Weybret's Water Board is now gambling with the future of our entire valley, and the cards are stacked against us. This time, he has a legal team to protect all board members from personal liability.

8. It would be smarter to do absolutely nothing than to follow the Water Boards suggestions.

9. I will be voting for Mr. Bryan Pilkington's referendum. Mr. Pilkington's referendum will take away the funding source that promoted these illegal actions.

Bill Fuhs


Response from Fred Weybret, chairman of the News-Sentinel and member of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District:

Mr. Fuhs' letter contains several factual errors which I feel need a response.

His contention that the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District is led by "Mr. Weybret's water board" is not only untrue, but it impugns the independence and hard work of my fellow board members, John Ferreira, Joe Mehrten, Tyce Van Gaalen and Tom Hoffman.

His reference to "100 horsepower pumps" is not clear, but it may be in reference to an old proposal to allow EBMUD to inject surplus Mokelumne River water under ground during wet years and take smaller amounts of water back out during drought years. This is a politically difficult idea that has been under consideration by our district, the Eastern San Joaquin Water Alliance, the County Groundwater Banking Authority and other districts in the county for several years. It may have merit some day, but not until adequate safeguards are in place to protect the water rights of local land owners. That issue so far has not been resolved.

His multiple allegations of illegal conduct fail to cite the law allegedly broken. I assure you that all of the district's actions in the past have been reviewed and approved by our attorneys, and we are confident that we are in full compliance with applicable laws.

His contention that I and the Lodi News-Sentinel have "admitted guilt" to dumping industrial waste is irrelevant and a deliberate misinterpretation of the facts of the central Lodi pollution case. We have admitted nothing and I deny the Sentinel contaminated the city's water or soil. We are content to have turned over financial resources to the city to further the cleanup instead of devoting them to unproductive litigation.

In his statement No. 8, Mr. Fuhs inadvertently supports the main point of the editorial by advocating "doing nothing." If Lodi-area landowners continue pumping, the water table will drop so low that it becomes contaminated with salt or arsenic. This has already happened in the western part of the district. No one should support such irresponsible inaction.

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