Summary of the Issue
Moulton Niguel Water District (MNWD) owns a percentage of the Coastal Treatment Plant. MNWD is contractually required to fund certain costs, but is delinquent on $755,871 of bills, some dating back to last summer. These funds are necessary for the repair of a facility that protects South Orange County’s most treasured environments while also producing more than 1 million gallons of recycled water each day for the local community.
Threats to the Coastal Treatment Plant Could Harm South OC
MNWD’s continued delinquency will impact the communities of Laguna Beach, Dana Point, South Laguna, Emerald Bay and portions of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. Ultimately, if MNWD does not come current with its bills, these residents and businesses would pay more for the same level of service. Environmental impacts, especially at Aliso Beach or Aliso & Woods Canyons, could also be experienced if MNWD’s non-payment jeopardizes work at the CTP.
A Deeper Look: History of MNWD’s Delinquency
The Coastal Treatment Plant (Plant) was built in the late 1970s and early 1980s to treat wastewater. It is funded through agreements specifying financial responsibility between the MNWD, Laguna Beach, Emerald Bay Service District and South Coast Water District. MNWD asked to join the partnership in the late 1990s and paid for all required charges associated with repair and upkeep of the Plant. Unfortunately, it summarily stopping payment in the summer of 2016.
Today, MNWD is not meeting its financial obligations under the existing contract with SOCWA and its partners in the Coastal Treatment Plant. In short, MNWD hasn’t paid its bills.
MNWD has asked to negotiate its way out of the existing agreement, but its suggested approach would result in increased fees for customers in Laguna Beach, Emerald Bay and Dana Point. Additionally, at a public meeting in April, MNWD committed to paying its past-due bills if the other owners held a public meeting. The other owners agreed and held two public meetings – April 28 and May 12, 2017 – to set parameters on MNWD’s requested exit. Unfortunately, MNWD failed to bring payment to one meeting and then attempted to attach conditions to its past-due payments at the other.
MNWD’s delinquency is holding up critical infrastructure projects that help protect Orange County’s finest environmental treasures, including Aliso and Woods Canyon and Aliso Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California.
Resources for the Record