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Brian Roney: Recycled water plan is another boondoggle

SCV Voices

Posted: March 14, 2010 10:59 p.m.
Updated: March 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Castaic Lake Water Agency implemented a plan in 2002 to develop a recycled water program. This $70 million system was designed to treat water from the Valencia Water Reclamation Plant, located on The Old Road, and provide it for primarily landscaping needs throughout the valley.

While the program is admirable from a best-management-practices approach, the projected use and expense of this program is a violation of the public trust.

There are two major problems with this program — no one is buying the water, and the cost is being by supported by existing water users.

The CLWA board members seem to have buried their collective heads in the sand as they have ignored repeated reports from their own paid experts that the program is not sustainable nor financially viable.

The only current user of recycled water is the Westridge development, including the golf course and landscape medians — clearly a new development. The reason no one else wants to buy this water is the costly requirement to install a completely separate set of pipes to use it.

Major potential recycled water users in this valley include Six Flags Magic Mountain, the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County, mainly for landscaping purposes.

None of these organizations will replace existing pipes to use water to which they already have access. The only source of new users is new development.

CLWA insisted in numerous reports that the recycled water demand would cover the costs of this entire system. The 2000 Urban Water Management Plan projected recycled water sales of 19,612 acre-feet per year by 2010, while the actual 2009 sales totaled a measly 296 acre-feet per year. Wow, quite a return on investment, don’t you think?

The CLWA board seems to have really done its homework, as it has figured out a way to provide water to a new development and get older existing users to pay for it — quite a feat.

What is the CLWA board doing to address this problematic program? Nothing, other than continuing to charge existing users to provide costly recycled water to a new development.

What happened to the board policy of new users paying for the cost of new water?

Apparently, the CLWA board is able to ignore and violate its own policies as it continues to bend over backward to cater to the water needs of new development.

A recycled water program is good for the environment and good for new development, but it’s bad policy because it charges existing customers for this expensive endeavor.

The clear winner in this case is the future Newhall Ranch development, as plans call for some of this highly subsidized recycled water for to be used there.

The CLWA board needs to revisit this program and acknowledge it has violated its own policies and finally allocate the costs of this expensive but worthwhile program to the actual users.

If you are concerned about what your water rates are paying for, visit a Castaic Lake Water Agency board meeting and voice your concerns.

Brian Roney is a Castaic resident and member of the Castaic Annexation Support Team, a grassroots volunteer organization supporting local governance. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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