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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Lawmakers Back Probe of Obscure Water Agency

May 19, 1999

CERRITOS — Despite a heavy lobbying effort, a committee of Senate and Assembly legislators voted Tuesday to have state auditors examine the financial dealings of the Cerritos-based Water Replenishment District of Southern California.

The district, which serves 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County, has been under fire for a 200% increase in water assessment fees since 1991 and the approval of a construction contract for a $22-million recycling project without competitive bidding.

State Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier), who asked for the audit, said the rich but obscure water agency pulled out all stops in trying to defeat her request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

"They worked the members over big time," said Escutia after the 11-0 vote in Sacramento. "Many senators and Assembly members on the committee told me they had never been lobbied as much as they were lobbied on this audit request."

Escutia said 10 cities in her district had complained about the district's financial practices. "The audit will put to rest a lot of these allegations once and for all," she said.

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