A director on the Mission Springs Water District (MSWD) board accuses the board’s president of having a ‘conflict of interest’ and seeks her resignation

DESERT HOT SPRINGS —  First there were accusations of an illegal holding pond at MSWD dumping waste in residents’ back yards. Now comes accusations that the president of the Water District board of directors has a conflict of interest, a charge the District denies.

Water Leader Accused of Conflict of Interest

Nancy Wright

The alleged conflict stems from the fact that Nancy Wright, who serves as president of the MSWD board of directors, also serves on the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board).  The Regional Water Board is the public agency with primary responsibility for the protection of ground and surface water quality for all beneficial uses within portions of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties as well Imperial County.

The Regional Water Board is the body that on June 10 wrote MSWD a letter saying it was subject to fines for building a holding pond without the appropriate authorization that then allowed t754,000 gallons of treated effluent to spill. Wight’s name is on the letterhead.

Water Leader Accused of Conflict of Interest

Steve Grasha, MSWD director

“It is a conflict for any director to serve on any board that has oversight over another board’s agency,” MSWD director Steve Grasha told Uken Report. “It is against California State law covered under the ‘doctrine of incompatible offices’ as described by our own district legal counsel in this clip at a recent meeting. Nancy Wright has forfeited her office of Director of Mission Springs Water District upon being seated as a member of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency charged with overseeing the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and must immediately resign or be removed from the MSWD Board by the State Attorney General of California.”

Grasha cited California State FPPC code on incompatible offices to underscore his conflict of interest allegations.

“Gov. Code Section 1099 codifies the common law prohibition against the holding of ‘incompatible offices,’ according to Grasha. ”This doctrine restricts the ability of public officials to hold two different public offices simultaneously if the offices have overlapping and conflicting public duties.”

In August 2018, Wright was reappointed to the Colorado River Basin Regional Water Quality Control Board where she has since 2012 and served from 2000 to 2007. Wright is co-owner of a family owned General Contracting company, since 1977. Wright was vice-president of Pete Wright General Contractor, Inc. from 1997 to 2016 and co-owner of the Wright Window Company from 1994 to 2014. Wright is a Commissioner and past Chair, of the Riverside County Local Agency Formation Commission and a 29-year member of the Mission Spring Water District Board of Directors.

“The appointment to the Regional Water Board is by the Governor of the state of California,” Victoria Llort, programs & public affairs manager for MSWD, told Uken Report. “Board Members are heavily vetted and passed for any conflict issues.  President Wright does recuse herself on MSWD matters that may come before the Regional Water Board.  The Regional Water Boards have legal counsel through the state of California. This counsel advises Regional Board Members when they should recuse themselves from matters that come before the Regional Board.”


Image Sources

  • Nancy Wright: MSWD
  • Steve Grasha: Steve Grasha