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Kevin Tonoian: Median project is designed to save water

SCV Voices

Posted: August 7, 2009 2:47 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
I want to thank Mr. Martin for his Aug. 2 letter to the editor, "Wasteful Median Improvements."

He references the city's landscape median improvement project planned for Wiley Canyon Road, expressing concern for project costs in comparison to the return on investment.

The first landscape median improvements on Wiley Canyon Road were constructed nearly 40 years ago.

While the landscape portion remains as beautiful as the day it was built, the underlying irrigation infrastructure is well beyond its anticipated operational life cycle and is due for modernization.

Let me start by assuring the community that the planned upgrades will significantly enhance the landscape beautification and visual attractiveness of the roadway.

Upgrades to the Wiley Canyon median include replacement of the obsolete irrigation system and substitution of water-intensive turf with plant materials requiring less irrigation.

Finally, the city will maintain the existing, mature trees along the Wiley median as part of the project.

While reducing the city's water usage by more than one million gallons each year is an important aspect of the project, it is not the only reason.

Replacement of the irrigation system originally manufactured in the early 1970s with smart-controller technology and water-efficient nozzles will reduce longterm costs associated with equipment maintenance and repairs, as well as the recurring labor cost of having staff in the field to manually manage and adjust irrigation controls.

The project also includes the planned installation of a paved maintenance strip along the other outer edge of the median to provide landscape crews with adequate space to perform their work while keeping them out of travel lanes.

Finally, the work entailed with replacing the irrigation system and installing safety strips will require removal of most of the turf.

Replacing turf with plant material requiring substantially less water for irrigation not only reduces water costs, but also reduces longterm recurring maintenance costs for work such as mowing.

In terms of project costs, it is important to understand that planned upgrades to Wiley Canyon are funded through dedicated landscape maintenance monies.

These monies encompass restricted funds, which by state law can only be used for maintenance and improvements to landscaped medians on major transportation corridors in Santa Clarita.

Expenditure of these landscape monies must also be used in a timely manner to ensure our residents receive the value and benefits of the landscaped median improvements they fund.

As I am sure Mr. Martin would agree, everyone in our community has a responsibility to be good stewards when it comes to water conservation.

Santa Clarita has and will continue to be a leader in advocating environmental policies that support sustainability.

The city serves as a participating member of the local Drought Committee and is committed to supporting the continuing efforts of our water providers to reduce the overall use of water in the Santa Clarita Valley by a minimum of 10 percent.

The Wiley Canyon Medians Project represents a balancing of priorities that the city consistently tries to achieve on the community's behalf.

This balancing is about keeping our community beautiful for the next 40 years and beyond, while also being stewards of our environment to ensure the decisions made today positively impact future generations.

When complete, the project will not only save more than one million gallons of water a year, but also ensure residents traveling on Wiley Canyon will still be able to enjoy seeing the leaves change colors in the fall.

From my perspective, that's a good return on investment.

Kevin Tonoian is the city of Santa Clarita's Technology Services Manager and Special Districts Manager. His opinion represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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