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Voice: IID board is working hard to implement savings

May 01, 2002

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Imperial Irrigation District, I would like to address your April 23 editorial concerning the district's efficiency implementation.

Like the Press, IID's Board of Directors thinks there is room for improvement at the district. Our board and management are committed to making change that is real, appropriate and contributes to a constant improvement of customer service.

Far too often organizations make hasty changes only to find they have created other problems that cost even more to fix. Rather than follow an expensive Band-Aid approach, the board is committed to investing in a better IID. General Manager Jesse Silva and efficiency implementation team leader Gabe Marcial have done an excellent job of staying focused on the board's commitment to real improvement and recommending proposals that offer true savings and efficiencies.

One of the suggestions from the efficiency study was that IID staff needs additional training. The board at its April 16 meeting approved funding for staff training to insure that continuous measurable improvement becomes standard operating procedure for all district employees, the people who can turn these tools into efficiencies far beyond those envisioned in the efficiency study.

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The board acted because it has faith in the approaches Mr. Silva and Mr. Marcial have recommended because of accomplishments already achieved. For instance, in the area of power customer service projects, the district has cleared up a backlog that the efficiency study estimated at $900,000.

Moreover, the district has developed mechanisms for tracking projects and holding its staff accountable, virtually eliminating IID caused-delays. Also recently, the board approved investing in an electronic record-keeping system that will save the district $4.7 million over the next five years while allowing our staff to work more efficiently and respond more quickly to public requests for information. This obvious measure was not even mentioned in the Stone & Webster study.

There are many ways to measure a utility's efficiency. For instance, in terms of rates, both IID water and power customers enjoy some of the lowest rates in the Southwest. In terms of electric service, measured in the number of days customers go without service annually, IID's reliability is unmatched. At the State Water Resources Control Board proceedings in Sacramento, IID's water system efficiency was reported to be at 89 percent, nearly the highest in the state and well above the goal the state wants irrigation districts to reach in the year 2020.

The IID board and management have a responsibility to ensure that changes made in the name of efficiency actually enhance the substantial efficiencies our customers now enjoy while maintaining the current level of service.

STELLA MENDOZA

President

Imperial Irrigation District

Board of Directors

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