A not so public agency

Jennifer McLain had a very interesting story that ran in today’s paper about the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, which isn’t a public agency but sure does get some very “public” benefits.

The Watermaster is a nonprofit, court-ordered agency that is afforded public benefits, uses public money and and does not have to adhere to state open-meeting laws.


Under the court order, the Watermaster is required to post its meeting agendas and minutes. It also allows members of the public to sit in on the meetings, will answer public records requests, and provides annual reports that include budgets, water rights and water uses.


Records show that administrative costs continue to grow as service expenditures, such as lower water quality monitoring and management costs, decline.

In 2007-08, director Williams received $172,700 a year, and received a $700 a month car allowance. In 2006-07, she received $166,400 a year including the car allowance.

Board members are compensated for their work on the Watermaster, receive dental and optical benefits, and get travel allowances.

Over two years, the Watermaster paid out nearly $24,500 to 12 board members for meeting attendance, and about $13,000 in travel expenses for five board members and the executive director.

“Our board member expenses are very low,” Williams said.

While by traditional definition it is not a public agency, employees receive public retirement benefits provided by CalPERS and get public health benefits.

What do you guys think?