2022 TVMWD candidate profiles: Javier Aguilar

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Claremont resident Javier “Javi” Aguilar is worried

Aguilar, a candidate running to take Division III incumbent Brain Bowcock’s seat on Three Valleys Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors, is concerned about current and future generations in the area due to recent decisions by the board.

“We’re going in the wrong direction in terms of water policy,” he said.

Over the last 10 years, the board’s decisions to seek imported water have grown stale given today’s climate, Aguilar says.

“The world is changing,” he said. “The planet is getting dryer and hotter. As we saw a few weeks ago, we had a heat wave that we haven’t had in a long time. The current board doesn’t really see climate change as important. But it is.

“Currently we’re in the wrong direction. The other candidate [incumbent Bowcock] is pretty good at pointing out problems, but he’s not giving any good solutions. That’s why the incumbent needs to be transitioned out. I’m about solutions, not politics.”

According to his campaign website, javiforwater.com, Aguilar is running because, “we cannot afford to let politics and failed policies continue to waste our precious resources.”

Aguilar wants Three Valleys to become self-reliant. He supports Pure Water Southern California and the Delta Conveyance Project and, if elected, would like TVMWD to apply pressure on the state to fund such projects.

Pure Water Southern California, formerly known as Regional Recycled Water Program, is a Metropolitan Water District and Los Angeles County Sanitation District proposed project that aims to build a water purification plant by 2032 on the state’s West Coast Basin to treat recycled water across Southern California.

The proposed project would produce up to “150 million gallons daily, enough to serve more than 500,000 homes,” according to Metropolitan’s webpage. Aguilar would work with the appropriate governing bodies to ensure a portion of the project’s water makes its way to Three Valleys consumers via the Devil Canyon-Azusa Pipeline. Further project details are available at mwdh2o.com/building-local-supplies/pure-water-southern-california.

Aguilar also supports the Delta Conveyance Project, which recently published a draft environmental impact report that is viewable until December at deltaconveyanceproject.com. The California Department of Water Resources project aims to upgrade the State Water Project’s channel infrastructure that pulls water from the Delta River to ensure supplies remain reliable in cases of natural disaster.

“We haven’t updated this infrastructure in the past 50 or 60 years,” Aguilar said. “We need to update it in order to give people the water that we need.

“In the past, we depended on the Sierra Madre snowpack as the largest reservoir. Now, because of climate change, there’s less precipitation, more heat, so a lot of this water we can’t capture it because we’re behind in reservoirs to capture this water.”

Aguilar contends all the runoff that currently flows to the ocean could be going to current and future treatment plants for consumer use. “We need this project in order to survive in terms of our livelihood,” he added. Learn more at water.ca.gov/deltaconveyance.

California boasts the fifth largest economy in the world, and for the state to maintain or even surpass that status, “We have to invest in basic necessities like water resources,” Aguilar said. “If we don’t provide necessities, we’re going to fall back. More people are going to move outside California.”

He also wants to work to address rising water rates in the region.

According to Aguilar, between 2004 and 2020 direct costs for Metropolitan Water District and Three Valleys customers increased 58.1%, while the median household income in Los Angeles County rose about 20%.

“The water rates have gone up almost three times faster than our incomes,” Aguilar said. “And that’s creating a gap for most people. That’s hurting a lot of people. This is a regional significance because water is life. Without water, we can’t develop, we can’t live.”

Aguilar based his numbers on compilations he made from Three Valleys and Metropolitan water districts and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Federal Reserve. To view his PowerPoint presentation, check the online version of this story at claremont-courier.com.

Aguilar has been a regional planner for more than 25 years. He’s currently employed by the Southern California Association of Governments. He says he’s the right fit for the board as his day job typically has him assess regional issues, gather research, and author transportation or climate change documents to keep the public well-informed.

“I work with people at all levels of government — federal, state, county, city — and also work in collaboration with nonprofits and the private sector to solve big problems,” Aguilar said. “I have experience bringing people together for common solutions.”

His portfolio of projects includes time spent as project manager for SCAG’s 2017 Regional Data Platform project, “a revolutionary system for collaborative data sharing and planning designed to facilitate better planning at all levels,” according to SCAG’s website.

Aguilar enjoys working on big projects and says he’s a practical problem solver.

“Again, it’s about solution, not politics,” he said. “We all need water. It’s a nonpartisan issue because it’s a human issue.”

If elected, Aguilar hopes to see the two aforementioned infrastructure projects through. In the short term he hopes to improve Three Valleys’ outreach to better serve the public, including minority and non-English speaking communities.

“There are plenty of opportunities to tell people, ‘Hey, it’s going to cost you less money to go and remove your turf.’ There are many programs for that, but many people don’t know about that,” he said. “There are also appliance efficiency projects where you can use less water and it’s going to save you money over the years. Many people don’t know about these things.”

He also wants the board to become more transparent and tell consumers how certain restrictions, rules or principles affect both Three Valleys and their monthly bill.

Asked about the controversial Cadiz Inc. project, Aguilar said it was a bad short-term, one-sided deal that would have hurt the district in the future. He was glad a federal court in California vacated Cadiz’s permit because he saw no positives with the project.

“There’s really no real documentation of what the benefits are and what the real costs are,” he said, adding he doesn’t understand why or the reasoning behind TVMWD accepting a $805,000 grant from Cadiz back in 2019.

“That’s a good question for the people that accepted that money,” he said.

Aguilar has lived in Claremont for about four months; prior to that, he lived in neighboring Azusa since 2009. The 52-year-old is currently working on a doctorate degree from Claremont Graduate University’s data science and analytics program. Although he has two advanced degrees already, he said he’s not an academic, but rather, “a practical man.”

Aguilar said he welcomes questions via email to javiforwater@outlook.com. The candidate will also be a guest on an upcoming episode of Claremont Speaks. Listen at claremontspeaks.com.

Voters can learn more about Aguilar’s platform at javiforwater.com.

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