2022 TVMWD candidate profiles: Brian Bowcock

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Three Valleys Municipal Water District Division III board member Brian Bowcock is up for reelection this November, and instead of walking away from nearly two decades of work, he wants another go-round to conclude his efforts.

“I’d like to get reelected simply because I’d like to finish some of the projects that we started,” he said. “It’s something that I definitely want to do: complete everything.”

The incumbent said the board has recently been working on projects near and far, including finding viable underground sites for storm water storage and sourcing water from plants that treat recycled water.

“Three Valleys is responsible for building four new wells on our property,” Bowcock said. “What we do is the [storm] water that comes out of the San Antonio Dam, percolates in the ground, we put our wells right here and we suck it right out of there, take it and clean it up.” That water would make its way to Three Valleys consumers in La Verne and Claremont before other neighboring cities, he said.

Bowcock said the board should prioritize local water solutions when deciding future projects. “The number one project is keep it local. But beyond that, we need to go outside and at least look for more water.

“My motto is very simple: build the best you can, which is going to last for as long as you can, for the cheapest price. That’s what I’m all about.”

That motto is also the top priority of his campaign platform.

Bowcock has served on the TVMWD Board since 2003. If reelected he would like to see through some major proposed projects, such as the Delta Conveyance and Sites Reservoir Project, both of which would cost billions to construct but would deliver a major boost to the district’s supply of import water.

“My job, I feel — and I’m not going to let up on it — is to go out and look for water,” he said.

To learn about the Delta Conveyance, a major upgrade to the State Water Project’s infrastructure channels that pull water from Sacramento’s Delta River, visit water.ca.gov/deltaconveyance. The  Sites Reservoir Project was proposed decades ago. It aims to construct an off-stream reservoir capable of holding up to 1.8 million acre-feet of Delta storm runoff near Maxwell, California. More info is at sitesproject.org.

Bowcock also hopes to work with Metropolitan Water District directors to convince them to fund the aforementioned projects. He would also make it his goal to ensure the Chino, Puente, Spadra and San Gabriel basins work to provide the public with “the best quality water for the lowest possible price.”

In 2019, Cadiz, Inc., a privately held water company based in Los Angeles, made a $805,000 grant to Three Valleys to pay for an environmental impact study by consulting firm Aquilogic for a controversial project it was proposing to extract 16 billion gallons of groundwater annually from an aquifer beneath the Mojave Desert. The plan has since been scuttled by a federal court in California, but questions remain.

Bowcock said Three Valleys recently opted out of the plan, and quoted minutes from a September 21 TVMWD board meeting that read in part, “The board, by unanimous vote, authorized the District to enter into an agreement with Cadiz and Aquilogic to terminate TVMWD’s involvement with the Bonanza Spring Study, subject to final negotiation of language by the General Manager and Legal Counsel.”

(Editor’s note: this is the first reference to “Bonanza Springs project” we have heard in our reporting on the Cadiz project. The term is synonymous with mentions of “Cadiz project” in our previous reporting.)

“We’re dropping out,” Bowcock told the COURIER. “And the reason we’re dropping out is [Aquilogic] have not produced the report that they said they would. And now it’s going to be prolonged even longer because [Cadiz] now doesn’t have a permit.”

As for the $805,000 grant from Cadiz, Bowcock said the district does not now, and in fact never did, have the money in its possession.

“We never did see it,” Bowcock said. “It was just a paper trail that went from Cadiz to Aquilogic to pay for the study. We never received $805,000.

“If Cadiz is trying to convince us to do the project, we’re not going to pay for the study. Cadiz said we’ll put up the money to do the study at the Bonanza Springs project and I said ‘Okay,’ because it wasn’t coming out of Three Valleys’ coffers. It was only coming through Cadiz,  through us to let us know that it was here, and it was paying for the studies.”

However, Bowcock also said he fears walking away from the deal to facilitate the Cadiz/Aquilogic study may expose Three Valleys to legal action.

“If the board said, ‘Okay we’re getting out of it and that’s it we’re out of it,’ what do you think that company’s going to do that’s been working on the report? They’re going to sue us. And rightfully so,” he said. “The agreement says, if we get the report, the study will show yes or no. But we haven’t gotten the report. Everything has been cut back and now we’re in a different situation.”

Bowcock made clear his decision to reverse his previous support of the Cadiz project was entirely his to make. “I’m not walking away just because I had a whole lot of negative people come in and beat the [Cadiz] project up,” he said.

Bowcock said Three Valleys first made an agreement with Cadiz over a decade ago, which he supported. But it was the reverse of the later deal: Three Valleys paid Cadiz $125,000 to guarantee it about 5,000 acre-feet of water from the proposed Bonanza Springs project. The plan, once the water became available to Three Valleys, was to lease all or portions of the imported water to neighboring districts in the hopes of turning a multimillion-dollar profit.

“Our jobs as directors is, if our managers come to us with a project — import supply, whatever it may be — it’s our responsibility to listen to it,” he said. “We may say, ‘That’s not us, we need to move on,’ or we may say, ‘That sounds viable, let’s get into it.’

“Now, were we ever going to be able to use [Cadiz water]?” He then pointed at this 24-year-old reporter, “Not in your lifetime,” due to transportation and purification concerns. “We may never use it here at Three Valleys, but it gives us the opportunity to take that 5,000 acre-feet and sell it to a [district] in Orange County. It’s just a trade-off.”

After 22 years as Director of Public Works for the City of La Verne, Bowcock recently retired and wants to focus solely on Three Valleys.

His resume of municipal utility business includes positions in water management with the City of Ontario, Monte Vista Water District in Montclair, and of course La Verne and Three Valleys.

With 61 years and counting of experience in water management, he said “water is definitely my passion.”

Bowcock will appear on an upcoming episode Claremont Speaks; listen at claremontspeaks.com.

To learn more about his campaign, visit facebook.com/Elect-Brian-Bowcock-Director-Three-Valleys-Municipal-Water-District-100557812781244.

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