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Tom Campbell: Looking ahead for CLWA

Part 2 of 2

Posted: January 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

While sunny weather over the holidays may have provided “chamber of commerce” conditions that are the envy of other parts of the country, it was also a continuation of a pattern that makes life challenging for water professionals throughout California. It was dry.

And, while we hope 2014 brings a break from the drought that’s leaving California so parched, at Castaic Lake Water Agency we are ready to meet the challenge if it doesn’t. Regardless of what Mother Nature brings, we look forward to the opportunities we’ll have in collaboration with the local retail water purveyors in 2014 to continue ensuring a safe, reliable supply of quality water for the Santa Clarita Valley. Here’s a look ahead at some of those challenges and opportunities:

Meeting Demand, Even in Drought

As a result of long-term planning, CLWA is prepared for droughts like this. The drought has resulted in an initial gloomy 2014 water delivery forecast from the State Department of Water Resources, which provides CLWA water from the State Water Project (SWP). We’re protected from such fluctuations thanks to the Valley’s diverse water supply portfolio — which is enhanced by CLWA’s stored water left over from previous years and imported water from sources in Kern County other than the SWP.

But the planning doesn’t stop — we are constantly vigilant, actively seeking to improve reliability. In the coming year, we expect to pursue improved water supply reliability on both the local and statewide fronts.

Supporting the BDCP

On the state level, CLWA supports the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which has been several years in the making. 2014 will be an important year for the BDCP, which has co-equal goals of promoting a healthy ecosystem in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a reliable water supply from the Delta, through which a significant amount of the state’s water flows, including CLWA’s SWP water supply. In the months ahead, the environmental study for the BDCP will be under public review, which could help shape the future of the plan.

The BDCP calls for new twin underground tunnels to convey fresh water under the Delta, improving system reliability, protecting Delta wildlife and replacing aging, seismically sensitive infrastructure. Completion of the project would enable the state to divert and store excess water in wet years, making the entire state less vulnerable to fluctuations in supply that are exacerbated by the outdated infrastructure and its environmental and operational inefficiencies.

Reliability and Quality

Locally, CLWA in 2014 will search for new ways to improve water supply reliability and quality utilizing the SCV’s resources. We’ll launch a reconnaissance-level study to identify local means of enhancing water supply reliability — and we plan to look at both traditional and nontraditional methods. And, we’ll replace the covers for two 15 million gallon clearwells that store treated water at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant. The existing covers are nearing the end of their service life, and the new ones will help ensure that CLWA’s standards for quality water continue to be met.

Resolving the V201 Perchlorate Chaenglle

Also in 2014, we’ll pursue a remediation plan for perchlorate contamination of Valencia Water Company’s V201 well near City Hall. The contamination, which originated from the former Whittaker-Bermite munitions manufacturing facility in the center of the Valley, resulted in the V201 well being removed from service in 2010. The goal is to both treat the contamination and restore the well to service.

Protecting the Legal Interests of Ratepayers

CLWA constantly seeks to serve the best interests of SCV ratepayers, and in 2014 we expect to successfully resolve the legal challenge by Friends of the Santa Clara River and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) challenging CLWA’s December 2012 purchase of Valencia Water Company, one of the Valley’s four retail water purveyors.

CLWA is confident the courts will agree that the Valencia Water Company purchase will result in more cost-effective and efficient retail service to most Valley ratepayers over the long term.

Responsible Fiscal Stewardship

The coming year will provide CLWA several important opportunities to enhance its fiscal position. CLWA is well-positioned to refinance and refund some of its debt service to lower the cost of constructing capital improvement projects. Not only does it mean CLWA’s taxpayers will save money in the long run, it also demonstrates that CLWA is committed to stretching every last dollar along with every last drop of water.

The coming year is shaping up to offer challenges and a varied menu of tasks for CLWA’s staff and the Board of Directors. And, I’m proud to say, we’re ready.

Tom Campbell is the President of the Castaic Lake Water Agency Board of Directors. His commentary reflects the Agency’s views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.



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