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City worried about water

January 30, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — As Southern California dries itself off from the latest winter storm, some in Burbank are concerned that the city could lose some of its imported water supply in the face of rights it has laid claim to for more than 70 years.

Glenn Brown, Burbank’s representative on the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is scheduled to appear Tuesday in front of the City Council to detail, among other things, the supply allocation plan for the area.

The perfect storm of an eight-year drought in the Colorado River, record low snowpack levels from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and a federal court decision tying up water deliveries from Sacramento have forced the water district to consider cutting water supply to participating cities, water district spokesman Bob Muir said.

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“The supply allocation plan is a plan to deal with shortages this year and in the future,” he said. “We try to make it as equitable as possible so no one community has to shoulder more than others. We want to make it as fair and even-handed as possible.”

Brown plans to address these concerns in front of the council and could advocate a cut in the regional water supply, said Bill Mace, Burbank Water and Power’s assistant general manager for water.

“[The water district] has said that for this year, there’s only a 10% chance there would be [a cut],” he said. “In the next three years, there is a 90% chance of [a cut]. How much that is depends on the weather in the intervening years, but we’re planning for the initial allocation of a 10% shortage.”

The allocation plan has its critics, who say that Burbank’s past affords the city certain preferential rights today.

“They want to take our preferential rights away and have us share water with Orange County,” said Burbank resident Mike Nolan, a former water district representative for Burbank. “This new formula takes some of our water away so their growth won’t be stymied. At the time of a drought, we should exercise our right to demand our fair share of water.”

Burbank is a charter member of 26 cities that make up the water district’s consortium.

Since 1928, when the group was first established, Burbank has ensured future residents would receive their fair share of water by paying an annual tax to the water district, even throughout one of the more turbulent economic times in this nation’s history, Nolan said.

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