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September 15, 2017 – After attending NID’s September 13 board meeting, I sensed that the board has missed the boat when it comes to respect for its constituents and commitment to doing right by us.

The meeting was packed with citizens who are concerned about the recent decision to fence the Scotts Flat Dam with chain link and razor wire. This action prevents hundreds of hikers, walkers, and bicyclists from enjoying their activities. NID is justifiably concerned about vandalism—a concern I think we all can relate to.

But perhaps the board could have explored a different path to addressing the vandalism issue. As a business owner, I try to consider the impact each decision I make will have on my customers. Sticking to the fundamentals—soliciting input, listening, and engaging in dialog—are important in business, and doing these things usually translates into taking good care of your customers. NID could benefit from applying these principles to its decision-making process. Engaging constituents would build trust and foster a sense of belonging. Before deciding to fence Scotts Flat, the board could have contacted neighborhood organizations (I believe there are two in close proximity to the fenced area) cycling groups, and trail-building organizations (such as the Bear River Land Trust). All these groups had representatives at the meeting and have offered their services to the board.

NID staff members presented on the status of their application for $12 million in funding for their proposed Centennial Dam project. Somewhat ironically, they also promoted their plan to improve recreation opportunities on the Bear River. Perhaps soliciting input on the recreation opportunities that have been eliminated by fencing the Scotts Flat Dam would have been more prudent.

Just an aside regarding respect: During the first few minutes of the meeting, some of the audience members were sitting on the tables because the room was crowded. As seen on the YubaNet video (//yubanet.com/regional/livestream-nid-board-meeting-september-13/) at 1 minute 10 seconds, one woman tried to shift over to allow others to sit. Director John Drew interrupted the person who was speaking and rudely ordered the woman to get off the table. Perhaps a better choice would have been to ask the speaker to pause, and then instruct staff to find the woman a chair.

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Regarding the issue of transparency, I would like to acknowledge Director Nick Wilcox for his comment regarding the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) report, which shows that 40,000-acre-feet of water are needed to meet the needs of NID and also shows the potential of selling anything above the 40,000 acre-feet to the Central Valley Project/State Water Project (CVP/SWP) systems. This is the first time I have heard an NID affiliate acknowledge that the board is considering selling our water outside the district. Up to this point, NID management has continued to deny this will happen. NID’s longstanding public policy has been to keep our water in-district, except for water sold to our immediate neighbors. This major policy shift should be of concern to all residents. With water costs projected to rise substantially in the future, raw water customers should be very concerned; they will be the first to experience cutbacks. I also commend Director Nancy Weber for her statement that the board’s policies are “creating a road map for the exporting of our water.” Protecting our water is in our community’s best interest and should be NID’s first priority. I assure you the communities to our south have their own interests at heart—not ours.

It’s time for NID management and the board to serve the people they represent. Let’s urge them to be honest with our community, engage us in a dialog, treat us with respect, and make courageous choices that protect our natural resources and our water rights.

John Volz

Chicago Park Resident

4 replies on “Op-Ed | John Volz: On Transparency and Respect”

  1. Thank you John for your clear input on how NID can engage more respectfully with their constituents and customers. Hopefully they’re listening.

  2. How true. I was also encouraged by Nancy Webber’s suggestion to set up a community forum to discuss issues like the dam.

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