In recent years, the West Valley Water District was engulfed in controversy and allegations of wrongdoing.
But now, the district has achieved a major turnaround that involves increased accountability, transparency, and job opportunities for ratepayers and their families, according to two members of the WVWD Board of Directors.
Despite revenue decreases that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic, the district made positive strides during 2020, said Board President Channing Hawkins and Vice President Kyle Crowther, who were elected during this time period last year.
“We faced tremendous challenges in 2020, but in the end we persevered, worked together and are coming out stronger,” said Hawkins. “I’m proud of our board’s collaborative effort to improve our organization and public trust in the face of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. Despite this progress, there is still more that needs to be done and I’m looking forward to making our West Valley Water District an industry leader in 2021.”
In October, the board approved a slate of 10 major reforms crafted with staff and vetted by department managers. The reforms included rigorous accounting and financial reporting measures, a new board policies and procedures manual and new water sustainability and efficiency projects.
From live-streaming and video-recording board meetings to regularly posting financial and water data online, WVWD's reforms earned the organization the Special Districts Leadership Foundation's Transparency Certificate of Excellence. The award, which promotes transparency in operations and governance of special districts to the public, required WVWD to adhere to strict reporting and transparency rules and procedures.
In addition to these accomplishments, the board also recently approved and established the Inland Empire Water Career Pathways Program which will help fill a critical skills gap and provide jobs for local students and residents.
“Our ratepayers -- our community -- demanded change, and we delivered massive progress in improving our services and our organization,” said Crowther. “I’m most proud of being able to cut spending in order to prevent any discussion on rate increases, expand infrastructure investment, and maintain a balanced budget even in the face of a pandemic that has dramatically reduced our revenue. Families in our communities are still experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic and our board remains committed to assisting them as we continue in this crisis.”
The district, based in Rialto, serves part of Fontana as well as Bloomington, Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, and Jurupa Valley.