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Water agency tightening security

• No threats to facilities, reported, officials say.

Posted: April 18, 2008 1:08 a.m.
Updated: June 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Security is being tightened around Santa Clarita water plants despite the Castaic Lake Water Agency reporting no direct threats targeting its facilities.

When it comes to the agency's buildings and grounds, topping the list of the agency's goals for the 2008/2009 fiscal year is installation of a video surveillance system put in place at each of its two water treatment plants and its two pumping stations.

The surveillance system was among several ongoing projects identified by the agency's Finance and Administrative Committee this week in its Review of Proposed fiscal year 2008/09 Department Goals.

"We like to think that the public respects that we're protecting their water supply," said Valerie L. Pryor, the agency's Administrative Services Manager.

Another of the agency's security goals, according to last meeting's agenda papers, is to: "Assist Engineering and Operations Department with implementing recommendations for security enhancements identified in the vulnerability assessment (ongoing)."

Pryor was asked if any recent threat sparked the agency's latest concerns over security. She said no.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, special attention was given to key infrastructure sites across America such as nuclear power plants, shipyards and water treatment facilities.

A security guard put in place after 911 still mans the kiosk at Central Park, stopping all motorists driving up the hill to the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant, asking to see identification and noting license plate numbers.

A sliding iron gate capable of shutting off access to the building and its parking lot remains in place and is operational.

Does protecting the agency as if it were a gated community deter visitors?

"We don't see it as a deterrent," Pryor said. "We hope that people see it as a minor inconvenience and are assured that we are protecting a public facility."

Although the agency holds monthly meetings for its board of directors and invites the public to take part in those and at weekly meetings of agency committees, usually no one from the public attends the proceedings.

No one, that is, except the Dunns.

Ed and Joan Dunn, husband and wife, each of them former directors on the Newhall County Water District board, have been regular fixtures at the agency meetings for the past two decades.

"I think the extra security would definitely be a deterrent - not to us - but to others," said Ed Dunn, who himself is a former agency board member.

"They can get their pint of blood and all of that from us, no problem," he said. "But, having your name taken, your license plate number recorded, ID shown, and cameras on you, I think a lot of people are intimidated by that."

The next agency meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.

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