Alameda County Water District paying $280,000 for history books celebrating its centennial

From earlier this week:

FREMONT — To celebrate its centennial, the Alameda County Water District is spending about $280,000 to publish two books on its rich history, just as it raised water rates for the 12th consecutive year.

The district board president said the expenditure is right in line with the agency’s mission to educate the community about its valuable water resources. “People are always surprised to learn that ACWD is California’s first and oldest county water district and it’s the oldest government agency in southern Alameda County,” said Paul Sethy.

But Fremont resident Eric Tsai sees things a bit differently. “It’s a waste of ratepayers’ money,” he said, suggesting the district would do better spending the money on “replacing pipes or paying off its debt.”

The district has assembled an experienced team to develop the books: It will pay $219,000 to the Water Education Foundation, a Sacramento nonprofit organization that specializes in state water issues and history, to produce the publications, and another $60,000 to Paul Piraino, the district’s ex-general manager, to research agency history and serve as the main author. Piraino, a district employee for 27 years, receives an annual pension of about $250,000.

Formed in 1914, the Alameda County Water District today serves 336,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City, and has an annual budget of $119 million. It employs 238 full-time workers, whose future pension and health costs, estimated at nearly $130 million, are partly why the agency has raised rates each year since 2003.

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Chris DeBenedetti


  1. Paying for History Books is like writing about Pompeii while it’s burning.
    We are in a record setting drought, what the Hell are they thinking.
    Are they that incompetent?

  2. The same question emerges time and time again – “Is this the best use of our limited resources?”

    Forget the debate about whether or not this story needs to be told. Why on earth would you go to the expense of *printing* hard copies??!!! At the very least – why not author the story if you must and host it online?

    The answer *has* to eventually come back to include that this group is seriously out of touch with technology and/or is just very impressed with their own story.

    “A man wrapped up in himself is very small parcel.”

  3. They can do whatever they want. The Directors aren’t looking out for ratepayers as they approve everything unanimously and the district is able to raise prices like they are a monopoly because they are a monopoly. Rarely does anyone show up to their Board meetings and only 50 people out of 330,000+ the district serves took time to mail/email in protests of the last rate increase.

  4. HEY ACWD We are in a drought, forget the history book, use the money to covert lawns to gardens of drought tolerant plants

  5. “Conservation will be critical during the coming months,” said water district board President Paul Sethy. “But conservation means less revenue for the district, and (we) must continue to fund the treatment and distribution of drinking water.”

    Hey PAUL – Conservation ALSO means that YOU as the manager of this district need to take EVERY ACTION POSSIBLE TO REDUCE OPERATING EXPENSES . . . .

    That you have chosen to announce the publication of a hard-copy book, celebrating your yawn of a legacy suggests strongly that you and your other “managers” lack fundamental notions of operating efficiencies.

    As a rate payer, I NOW have to wonder what other expenses have been and continue to be squandered in the same manner by decades of (mis)management by this same kind of frivolity. But, please, never mind that – – – just continue to pass YOUR inefficiencies back to rate payers. It’s much, much easier than scrutinizing your own house.


  6. Paul Seth has already announced that rates will go up, with the lack of water sales they will be short on there budget. If there was ever a bureaucracy catch 222, this is the grand daddy of them all.
    We need to ask ACWD what are you doing to lower there expenses…?

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