Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Randleman Dam Scam and cover-up remains hidden



Forrest Gump said he stopped running because he was tired. I am tired, and that’s why I am concluding my exposé about Greensboro’s fraudulent pursuit of the Randleman Dam.

I’ve been unsuccessful at galvanizing any support for an investigation into municipal corruption regarding the dam's approval and funding, so here is my final wrap. If you appreciate having abundant low-cost water delivered to your tap please read my final post and discover what's wrong about the workings of the average water works.

The most misunderstood threat to our nation’s water supply is municipalities like the City of Greensboro, NC that sell water for profit. Why?—because they will always try and sell all they can. And when you try to maximize your water sales, water conservation is the last thing on your mind! The City won’t care that 35,000 toilets are leaking 24/7 because toilet leaks increase water sales by 2 million gallons a day! This represents a sale! And Greensboro needs to sell more water, because water use is declining.

Water works routinely expand their systems even when water sales are declining because they’re managed by engineers who build things for a living. The manifest destiny of the average municipal water works results in the waste of trillions of US gallons annually and nobody is watching. That’s not all—water is heavy—so they also waste enormous amounts of non-renewable fossil fuels to provide the energy to distribute, collect and treat all the water that should have been be conserved but instead was sold for profit.

Sadly, this unnecessary waste of water and energy will continue forever unless and until municipal water works are forced to change their ways. Who will force them? If you said the government, you’re wrong. Currently, state and federal governments encourage and reward municipalities like Greensboro for expanding their water works, so it does not appear that government will ever become the change-agent that mandates water efficiency for municipalities.

Soon the water-for-profit quagmire will be demonstrated locally right here in Randleman, NC. Although more than a decade behind schedule, the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority (PTRWA) (The Randleman Dam agency) will begin selling water within the next few months. And like most municipal suppliers, PTRWA will sell as much of the new Randleman Reservoir as it can every day! And PTRWA will expand its operation regardless of need because that's the mindset of water works engineers. 

PTRWA (Randleman Reservoir)(RanRez) will never promote the practice of water conservation until drought happens and its reservoir become empty. Once the drought ends, RanRez will go right back to selling (wasting) all the water it can. RanRez' views about water conservation will be just like the majority of US municipalities that offer plenty of water con-VERSATION and no real water con-SERVATION. Any mention of "water conservation" by a water-selling-for-profit utility is a joke!

FACT: The National Water Conservation Conference is the place where WC Coordinators lament that their engineer-directors are only interested in water sales and water works expansions. Water Utility Managers have zero interest in water conservation!...but if you stick a microphone under their chins and ask them, they will sing praises about water conservation and claim they are doing everything possible to help customers use water efficiently.

WC coordinators resort to conducting school tours and printing WC literature because they are prevented from doing projects that save water (reduce sales). The only time their bosses appear interested in water conservation is when they are on camera. Whenever the water engineer/director oversees the water conservation program, the fox is guarding the henhouse. Do you still not understand the problem with municipal governments and water engineers selling water for profit?

As water conservation manager I gave the City of Greensboro my best effort. My one-person WC office led citizens to spare 4 billion gallons and win back-to-back 1st place United States Environmental Protection Agency awards for municipal water efficiency. During my 5-years of service real water sales declined every year while the Greensboro economy was booming and record numbers of building permits were being issued. The unanticipated decline scared the crap out of my water bosses and it became a direct threat to the approval and funding of the Randleman Dam. I was toast.

I was hassled for three years and then fired in 1999 for succeeding at what I was hired to do. I was never replaced. Then in 2003 the City of Greensboro released the WC specialist I had hired and it never filled her vacant position either. So the City of Greensboro shut down its nationally recognized water conservation program without any complaints from taxpayers, local environmentalists, NCDENR, the EPA because the local news didn't report it. 

I’ve given this dam scam exposé my best shot since 2007. Unfortunately I have been unable to convince citizens and news reporters that they were scammed into an unnecessary dam and vast supply of new water. The City of Greensboro used every trick in the book to get its new dam by hook or crook. The dam scammers were successful at their game and it appears they will never be held accountable for fraudulently expanding Greensboro’s water works by 75% during a 15 year decline in water sales. Only a monopoly can behave like that—and it certainly helps when the local news media serves as cheerleaders for the expansion.

I have no doubt that people more talented than me will continue to risk their careers and expose the harm caused by municipalities driven to sell water-for-profit. Perhaps the evidence I have archived here may become useful to those wishing to advance this issue. As for this whistleblower, I have been at this for too long and my health has been affected. I am so grateful to the Internet and Google for the opportunity they provide to fight city hall. I send my best wishes and this word of caution to all those involved in the uphill battle for water efficiency in a water-for-profit environment.

Mike J Baron
Greensboro’s only water conservation manager
1994 to 1999
Google dam scam to find my reports

Friday, July 9, 2010

News & Record Editor John Robinson

In 1997 as a whistleblower working inside Greensboro's city hall I began sending News and Record Editor John Robinson shocking news that Greensboro water use was declining! He refused to print it. He said to me, "That’s not news—because with a water conservation program now operating, water use should be declining."

Editor Robinson was spiking the news story that would have destroyed the city's campaign for the unnecessary $150 million dollar Randleman Dam! And I cannot prove this, but I believe Editor Robinson hung up and then called City Manager Ed Kitchen to inform him that Mike Baron was whistleblowing about the decline in water use.

Water use continued to decline several years in a row during a booming economy when record numbers of Greensboro building permits were issued! The City of Greensboro had predicted that water use would skyrocket.

Editor John Robinson joined the dam scam conspiracy and prevented the News and Record's readers from learning that real water use was declining while the City was falsely claiming water use was increasing. Robinson and his daily newspaper had endorsed the dam project and printed numerous stories (city propoganda) about why the Randleman Dam was needed. His newspaper convinced the citizens to support the dam.

Declining water demand was BIG NEWS because had the public known that water use was going DOWN instead of UP, it would have begun to question the need for the controversial Randleman Dam.

15 years have passed and the citizens of Greensboro still don't know that water use (water sales) is lower now than when RanDam was being pitched as the only solution for a city "running out of water."

The News and Record knows that the citizens don't know the facts ....and it still refuses to print them. It sent a reporter to cover my post-termination news conference who was on her last day of work and beginning a new job the following week in Texas. That shows how little interest the daily newspaper had in reporting the truth.

Why didn't the News and Record inform its readers that the City of Greensboro's water sales are lower now than 15 years ago? Why won't the News and Record tell citizens that the City of Greensboro's 1995 projected water needs created to justify RanDam never came true?

Mike J Baron
Greensboro's only water conservation manager
1994 to 1999

Thursday, July 8, 2010

To the Jamestown News: Get your dam story straight

Today the Jamestown News published a dam story based on fiction. Reporter Carol Brooks wrote:

Discussion about building a regional water system actually began in the 1930s because the Triad area is prone to drought.”

Ms. Brooks, who told you that proneness to drought is what began the discussion of the dam and reservoir in the 1930’s? That’s a lie! The dam was for flood control and the initiative was eventually abandoned.

Drought has become the new excuse for RanDam—because Greensboro, the driving force behind the approval of RanDam never did see the huge increase in water sales it had projected (See chart at end of post).

The Army Corp of Engineers employs government engineers who build things for a living. They will think up projects because that’s their job…and their job security. The Army Corp of Engineers operates just like the Greensboro water works that continues to build in spite of a decline in water sales. When you give government engineers a giant Erector Set and a big budget they are going to propose projects and then build them. That’s the name of the game. If Greensboro’s water engineers stopped designing and building they would be out of a job (DUH)! But when you are a monopoly like the Greensboro water works you can do whatever you want!

Greensboro and High Point never needed RanRez water and now their taxpayers and water customers are stuck paying for daily allotments. Greensboro residents should realize that it costs more to operate three water plants than it does to operate two water plants.

FACT: Greensboro purchased 53% of RanRez and it has expanded its water works by 75% during a 15 year decline in water sales. And nobody knows but the few who read the Randleman Dam Cold Case Files.

QUESTION: During periods of dry weather would the City of Greensboro ever prematurely impose water restrictions on citizens and businesses when restrictions aren't needed?

ANSWER: Of course it would! It's a proven tactic that works ever time it is tried. Restrictions convince citizens of the "need" for Randleman's water and prepare them to foot the bill.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Greensboro Water Director claims we are headed for a disaster!

The Miami Herald did a story yesterday about the rising costs of repairing the water works infrastructure—a growing national problem. It interviewed Greensboro’s water chief Allan Williams because he was formerly Jacksonville Florida’s utility director. Several experts quoted in this story indicated that water rates need to rise 20 to 25 percent and Williams agrees.

 "People don't want to pay for this so they take it for granted,'' said Williams. “But by keeping rates artificially low, the effects are going to snowball and it's going to become a disaster.''

What the City of Greensboro is not telling you is that infrastructure costs are skyrocketing but water sales are lower than 15 years ago. Therefore, cash flow is a problem. But Greensboro cannot cite low water use as the problem because it predicted that water sales were going to increase and they didn't—they fell. Without the anticipated revenue from increased water use the only way to raise cash now is to raise the water rates.

Greensboro never needed the Randleman Dam. The money it wasted for it could have been applied to water works infrastructure repairs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lack of rain excites dam scammers

This morning on Snooze 2 TV the weatherman announced the Triad is beginning to feel the effects of the lack of rain. And the City of Greensboro dam scammers couldn’t be happier! That’s because they need a new excuse for RanDam after their 1995 projections of escalating water demand never came true!

During the last prolonged drought dam scammers like GSO Water Czar Allan Williams took advantage of every opportunity on camera to warn citizens about Greensboro’s “water shortage” and paint RanDam as the obvious solution.

FACT: Greensboro got through its last lengthy drought with relative ease—and without RanDam! Its reservoirs did better than those in other NC cities. Why?—because water use is lower than it was 15 years ago! ...but the city won’t tell you that and neither will the lamestream media!
Instead they showed you photos of RanRez full to the brim (because none of the six communities were drawing water from it.) What they didn’t tell you is that during a drought RanRez will empty much faster than other reservoirs because the Deep River that feeds RanRez is actually a shallow stream.

With low water sales and a 75% expansion of the water works, drought protection is the new excuse for RanDam. Long ago its purpose was because citizens were fed that Greensboro was "running out of water." That was never true—but it's a wonderful fear tactic to get an unnecessary dam approved.

CAUTION: The dam scammers are downright nervous about their fraud becomming exposed so use good discernment whenever Greensboro’s slanted water reports reach you on TV or in print. For a more detailed story about RanRez as phony drought mitigation, click here.

To receive the RanDam Cold Case Files in your inbox, click here and type Randleman Dam Scam.It is so easy a cave person can do it.

Paradigm shift: Greensboro as a water exporter

The thought of the City of Greensboro exporting water to a far off land like Alamance Elementary School near Pleasant Garden would have been preposterous years ago. But Greensboro has a new problem that it wishes to keep hidden: The city has a huge surplus of H2O and it needs new water customers to consume that surplus.

Remember, Greensboro's water rate is DOUBLE for its water customers living in Guilford County. Maybe the rate should TRIPLE for counties outside of Guilford County? This school will become a cash cow for the water department.

Greensboro has vastly overbuilt it water works while the news media slept. The city now owns 53% of the RanRez output and it has no need for the water! Is it any wonder why a distant elementary school will be Greensboro's first foreign water customer? This school will drink from Greensboro's vast water surplus. 

Greensboro is exporting water! Ca ching ca ching. It's just too bad that sound will NOT be profit.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jamestown News- "Greensboro knew by 2003 it did not need Randleman’s water"

The Jamestown News reports today (see story) that Greensboro knew by 2003 it did not need Randleman’s water.

Jamestown News:

"Work on the dam and lake began in 2001 and was finished in 2003. By then, High Point and Greensboro said they didn't need the water but in 2008 both municipalities agreed to finance their portion. They later pulled out of the proposed bond referendum, selling their own bonds and paying the PTRWA their portion."

Greensboro never needed the Randleman Dam. It was a scam.

Its secret objective was to accelerate growth but it was pitched to citizens and to the feds for survival to get RanDam approved and funded.

Now the RanDam Scam is a cover-up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RanRez' biggest water customer—the City of Greensboro

According to yesterday’s News and Record story, half of the PTRWA (RanRez operators) budget will come from purchases made by its biggest water customer—the City of Greensboro. RanRez will earn about $3.7 million dollars annually for just 6 million gallons of water taken by Greensboro every day. The city currently uses about 32 million gallons a day so one-fifth of its water will now be imported from Randleman.

The big question is WHAT WILL GREENSBORO CHARGE ITS CUSTOMERS FOR THE WATER IT IMPORTS FROM RANREZ? The water department is certain to add “shipping and handling charges” and that’s certain to raise the price of water for Greensboro’s customers.

Remember, water chief Allan Williams assured everyone that “RanRez water will be less expensive that Burlington water.” That's a ridiculous statement but you can count on the fact that somehow on paper Greensboro will show that RanRez water is a bargain. And once again Greensboro will not be telling the truth.

But the real question is “How much more expensive is RanRez water than the water produced at Greensboro’s own water plants? Why?—because the GSO plants must cut production by 6 million gallons a day (mgd) to make room for the 6 mgd imported from RanRez. Even a cave person can do the math.

Greensboro’s dirty little secret is that it has enjoyed a water surplus for more than a decade now. Greensboro never needed Randleman's water but now by contract it must purchase 6 million gallons DAILY from Randleman. And that will drive up the cost of water for everyone.

To suscribe to the Dam Cold Case Files click here and type in Randleman Dam Scam

Monday, June 14, 2010

The day the water stopped flowing—a must read for Greensboro taxpayers

On Tuesday afternoon, May 24, 1994 after a heat wave and a frenzy of lawn irrigation, water stopped flowing from faucets in northwest Greensboro. Businesses were forced to close. The city and the news media went bonkers over the water outage. It was the "event" the Randleman Dam scammers had been waiting for.

We knew this was going to happen sooner or later,” said dam scammer Tom Phillips, former Greensboro City Council member and member of the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority (PTRWA). Nobody seemed to know or care that this day's water failure was entirely preventable!
With dam fools like Tom Phillips hyping a water shortage, Utility Director Ray Shaw was able to take a calculated risk and allow his water works to fail. Phillips’ statement revealed both his ignorance of how a water system works and his marketing savvy for pitching an unnecessary dam. His and other city leaders’ comments insulated Shaw from any blame and paved the way for City Council to advance its dam agenda.

UTILITY DIRECTOR RAY SHAW SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED! Why?—because had a fire broken out in northwest Greensboro that day, LIVES COULD HAVE BEEN LOST and PROPERTY WOULD HAVE BEEN DESTROYED—all because of the dam fantasy of a few city leaders and developer/profiteers like Robbie Perkins and Dick Grubar who sat on Greensboro’s City Council!

Ray Shaw knew that a small-scale distribution system failure would help him achieve his career dream and theirs too—the Randleman Dam. The "Shaw of Utilities" survived the system failure without a scratch. And boy did City Council love the result! Can you hear me now citizens of Greensboro? What part of conspiracy do you not understand?

 Not a single news reporter or city council member ever asked, “Could this water failure have been prevented?” Instead, city council put on its blinders and forged ahead with a re-action plan that included the start-up of a Water Conservation program—me, and the push for the approval of the Randleman Dam. Years of dishonest propaganda followed before the dam was finally approved. The past decade has revealed the city’s claim about “running out of water” was a fabrication.

This is how Greensboro government conducts business when no checks and balances are in place and spineless local news reporters and their editors refuse to investigate the politics, profits and pride behind every public works project. This forgotten event on May 24, 1994 is what helped secure an unnecessary and astronomically expensive new dam and reservoir for the City of Greensboro.

There were numerous cost-effective alternatives to the Randleman Dam that would have increased Greensboro’s water supply and reduced demand. But thanks to the dam scammers all of the better alternatives were scrapped to secure the Randleman Dam. And the result—the Greensboro water works monopoly is now radically overbuilt while real water use is less than it was 15 years ago!  
And to make matters worse, Randleman Dam has not attracted the industrial customers that were expected to relocate to Greensboro and swallow up the huge surplus of RanRez water that Greensboro has purchased. Residential water users must now pick up the tab for the industries that were supposed to relocate to Greensboro.

Now you know that one preventable water distribution failure in 1994 changed everything! It was the water failure the dam scammers needed to get their project moving.

Only you can help this story get the traction it deserves. Send it to your neighbors and elected officials. Or, just call somebody and tell them to Google two words - dam scam.
To receive the Dam Cold Case Files in your inbox, type Randleman dam scam here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Former Utility Director Ray Shaw

When you were a child did you ever break a toy so your parents would buy you a bigger or better one? That’s what former utilities director Ray Shaw did with Greensboro’s water works. I was the department spokesperson and I saw how he did it. Shaw wanted bigger water plants, more pumping horsepower and his career dream fulfilled—the construction of the Randleman Dam. Shaw ran the reservoirs and the distribution system into the ground because he knew that failures were the fastest way to get approval for the projects he wanted. If you have read my stories you know how he did it? Feel free to ask questions.

Next from the Dam Cold Case Files: Tuesday, May 24, 1994 was the only day in Greensboro’s history that water stopped flowing from the tap. Businesses were forced to close. Was it an accident? ....or was it allowed to happen for a reason?

To receive Dam Cold Case Files in your inbox type the words Randleman dam scam here.