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Zone 7 candidates stress sustainability, conservation at pre-election forum

Incumbents, challengers share thoughts about future of water supplies

Sustainability, storage, water quality and quantity, conservation and water management were words used throughout a forum held last week featuring candidates for the Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors in the upcoming June 3 election.

Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Livermore-Amador Valley, six of the seven candidates seeking election gave opening and closing statements and answered questions asked by the audience.

Current board member AJ Machaevich, an incumbent in the race, did not participate in the forum.

Zone 7 provides water resources and flood control to the Livermore-Amador Valley, as well as selling treated potable water to Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon.

The six candidates for Zone 7 Board of Directors who participated in the May 14 forum are:

* Alfred A. Exner

* John James Greci, Jr. (incumbent)

* Jim McGrail

* Matt Morrison

* Sarah Palmer (incumbent)

* Bill Stevens (incumbent)

Palmer, who currently serves on the Zone 7 board, said she believes that sustainability is the main issue and "we have to look 50 years, 100 years down the road."

"Water is key," she said. "Civilizations have fallen because water has not been available, or it's been misused or mismanaged."

According to Palmer, the economical, political and environmental issues must be looked at altogether in order to meet the region's water needs.

Many candidates echoed one another about the importance of water storage and how it should be a priority.

"We need more storage and we need ways to get more storage," Exner said.

Stevens, the Zone 7 board president, agreed.

"There are ways of getting to more storage," he said. "You have to pass the BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan), and you have to separate from (Alameda County)."

The BDCP is California's current water proposal.

According to its website, the BDCP is a conservation strategy aimed at protecting dozens of species of fish and wildlife, while allowing operation of California's two biggest water delivery projects.

Morrison, a 45-year Pleasanton resident who is challenging for a Zone 7 seat, is not in favor of BDCP.

"It sucks up to $60 billion in bonds and bond financing," he said. "We could take half or a third of that and put it in recycling, we could fallow agriculture land that's contaminated and strengthen levies."

In response to the issue of separation from Alameda County, McGrail is against Zone 7 walking away from Alameda County.

"I believe we all can work together," he said. "There's power in numbers and I don't believe we should be independent."

In response to the drought emergency, Zone 7 vice president Greci said the quantity of water is of strong interest to him now and his previous experiences allow him to know the importance of managing water for availability and quality.

Only residents in Alameda County can vote for the Zone 7 board on June 3. There will be four seats available on the primary election ballot.

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