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Tom Campbell: 2013 may have been dry, but it kept CLWA busy

Posted: January 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

Now that one of our all-time driest years has drawn to a close, we at Castaic Lake Water Agency are reflecting proudly on the past year and our successes in providing the Santa Clarita Valley a reliable supply of quality water

— even under the most challenging of circumstances.

Those familiar with CLWA know we tout the Santa Clarita Valley’s diverse water supply portfolio, which enables our community to withstand droughts with minimal impact on ratepayers.

That portfolio — which includes local groundwater, imported water sources, recycled water and “banking” of unused water from previous years — is a big part of CLWA and the local retail purveyors’ success story in recent years, including the ever-so-dry 2013.

But there are other angles to the story, too, as we reflect on 2013 and CLWA’s accomplishments in serving the SCV. Here are a few highlights:

Wholesale Water Rates

In February the CLWA Board of Directors, after careful deliberation, approved a new wholesale rate structure that is designed to encourage water conservation and conjunctive use of different water supply sources, and also more fairly allocates the costs of CLWA’s operations to all four local retail purveyors.

The new structure, which took effect July 1, assigns each retailer its fair share of the agency’s costs in a manner that provides greater revenue stability for the agency and more cost certainty for the retail purveyors, while at the same time promoting and supporting proper and prudent water management by all valley water suppliers.

Chloride Solution

CLWA in 2013 participated in the search for solutions to the issue of chlorides in the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District’s discharge of treated wastewater into the Santa Clara River.

Current discharges exceed allowable limits under state regulations, raising objections from downstream farmers in Ventura County who say the chloride levels are tough on certain crops.

Over the past several years, solutions have been sought — and the options have included some costly ones.

In October the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board chose a treatment option that will bring the discharges into compliance and eliminate the risk of additional fines.

The treatment — in which chlorides will be removed by reverse osmosis and then injected deep underground as a salty brine — would have been much more expensive if it wasn’t for CLWA’s technical expertise and recommendations that optimized sizing of the treatment system.

Perchlorate Treatment

In 2013 CLWA completed its third year of successfully treating water from a pair of local wells that were contaminated with perchlorate from the Whittaker-Bermite site, a former munitions manufacturing facility near the center of town.

While we continue to fine-tune the treatment program — and work to reach a remediation solution for another well near City Hall that was taken out of service in 2010 due to perchlorate contamination — we’re proud to say that in 2013 about 1 billion gallons of contaminated water from the two wells were treated and beneficially used.

Meeting electric need

Funny thing about water pumps: They don’t run without electric power. In the event of a major power outage, it would be pretty challenging to continue delivering water to some areas without backup power.

So in 2013 CLWA installed a 2,000-kilowatt diesel generator at the Sand Canyon Pump Station, which ensures that the eastern portion of CLWA’s service area will continue to receive water in the event of an emergency or power outage.

Transparency

CLWA in 2013 was honored for its transparency of operations and excellence in fiscal planning. In September

CLWA was awarded a District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance.

CLWA also received several awards for excellence in budgeting and financial reporting from the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers and the Government Finance Officers Association.

As you can see, while 2013 may have been a dry year, it was also a busy one for CLWA. In a column next week we’ll look ahead at what’s in store for CLWA and its priorities for 2014.

Tom Campbell is the president of the Castaic Lake Water Agency Board of Directors.

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