Holiday GSWC survey says!

It will only take 15 minutes? OK. A water treatment survey? Who would be doing a water treatment survey during the holidays? You want to know how I feel about Golden State Water Company (GSWC)?   OK, now, wait, you said this was only going to take 15 minutes. If I were to tell you how I feel about GSWC, it would take more than an hour. OK, I will try to keep it brief.

Let’s see, GSWC is owned by American States Water Company (ASWC), an incredibly profitable private water company. In fact, 80 percent to 85 percent of the revenue and income for ASWC comes from GSWC. One out of every 30 Californians is served by GSWC. Did you know that in Ojai, customers pay three to four times more for water with GSWC as compared to other water providers? Golden State really likes doing business in California; it just sold Chaparral City Water Company in Arizona for $35 million.  It wasn’t profitable enough, too many regulations, they say. Now it is going to invest the $29 million in cash it received from the sale into capital improvements in California and make 8 percent to 10 percent on the money. That is almost $3 million a year in profits. You know, I sure would like to be able to make a guaranteed profit like that on my money. My savings account pays .5 percent. It doesn’t seem fair does it?


Well, there is the state agency called the CPUC (California Public Utility Commission).


The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable water service and infrastructure at reasonable rates. Of course, I call the CUPC the California Private Utility Commission. That is because it seems to protect the profits of the private water utility more than it does the reasonableness of rates to the consumer. Otherwise, Golden State’s rates would reflect the other water providers.


Yes, I know who Casitas Water is. I received water from them for 13 years. Good water provider. The water rate for the first CCF is only $0.83; Golden State’s is $3.80 with surcharges for the same amount.  Bah, humbug to Golden State! Casitas is not regulated by the California Private Utility Commission. It has elected board members who are accountable to its voters. Casitas provides safe, reliable water at very reasonable rates to their customers. It is a great municipal water district. Casitas manages and maintains its water system in the best interests of consumers. There is a stark contrast between Casitas Water and Golden State. Golden State cares about profits.


Mr. Elton Gallegly? I think I called him with concerns about out water rates, but he did not seem interested. The staff said it was not a federal problem.

Mr. Tony Strickland? Yes, I have contacted his office. I know! He is the state senator who received 100 turkeys from Golden State Water to give to the less fortunate. Do I get a turkey for answering this survey? No! Well, I hope this is for a good cause. You know, those turkeys will be paid for by the Golden State Water customers. Golden State has figured out how to manipulate most expenses; it might be making an 8 percent to 10 percent profit on the cost of the turkeys, also.

Ojai Flow? I have two Ojai Flow signs in my front yard. They say, “OJAI FLOW Stop the Golden State Water RIP OFF!” Darn proud to have them there! There are hundreds of these signs throughout Ojai.  What? You say that Ojai Flow is part of a national organization? How well do you know the people of Ojai Flow? You don’t! Where are you getting your information? You could not be more wrong! Ojai Flow is a local group of volunteers; they are not paid for what they do, they do it for the good of the citizens and businesses of Ojai. Golden State is the one that is part of a national organization of water companies, American Water Works Association. Golden State is the one that was caught taking no-bid contracts and now owes the ratepayers in Ojai $1.2 million. The company tried to hide it and got caught by a former employee who reported it. Golden State is the one that wants to replace pipelines that have no history of leaks rather than replacing lines that have a history of leaks. Golden State is the one caught charging customers for rate increases for infrastructure replacement that was not being done. Golden State is the one that wants to install a well at $2.25 million that is not even needed. Golden State is the one that charges customers when we conserve or when Mother Nature provides water for our gardens and landscapes. Golden State is the one that cares more about profits than reasonable rates for its customers. 


Wait a second. Something is strange here. Yes, that’s it. You mentioned that Ojai Flow was a part of a national organization. That is the same comment that was made by Mr. Robert Sprowls, the president and CEO of Golden State Water. He sent out a letter to Ojai customers to discredit Ojai Flow and deceive customers in Ojai. Just like that attorney Joe Connor, whom GSWC hired for probably tens of thousands of dollars, most likely at our expense, to scare the customers in Ojai about eminent domain, even though it is part of the contract with the city Of Ojai. Maybe it is making 8 percent to 10 percent on his costs also. It would not surprise me!


Now I get it! You are doing a survey for Golden State Water Company, aren’t you? This is just like the glossy flier GSWC had sent out but denied knowing anything about! We may have paid for that, too.  These are the same tactics that Cal Am Water used against the community of Felton in its fight to take back the water system. Felton won, and now it is reaping the benefits.

I thought you said this was a water treatment survey! You have to go? Wait; don’t you hang up on me.  We have not finished the survey. I told you this would take more than 15 minutes. Click! Hello! Hello!   At least you could give me a turkey! Oh, well! I wonder if that was Mr. Sprowls I was talking too? At least I got my two cents’ worth in.     

Jon Whaley lives in Ojai and stands behind Ojai Flow.