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Water agencies joining forces

Districts hope to better manage Upper Santa Clara River Watershed

Posted: July 10, 2008 12:36 a.m.
Updated: September 10, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

Like tributaries of a river, local water agencies are coming together this week to forge a plan for better management of the Santa Clara River and to elicit state grant money to do the job.

The Upper Santa Clara River Integrated Regional Water Management Plan is the central fixture in board meetings this week at both the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District.

The goal is the same for both local agencies: Working together to better manage the Upper Santa Clara River Watershed and, at the same time, using that plan to apply for grant money.

Board members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which sells water to four local water retailers, Wednesday night endorsed a recommendation to adopt the plan and use it to apply for grant money “as appropriate for the IRWMP effort.”

The endorsement also called on the agency’s retail division — the Santa Clarita Water Division, one of the four retailers — to approve the plan as well.

The same plan is expected to be endorsed tonight by the Newhall County Water Division for the same reasons and for the same ends — better utilization of the river’s watershed and to secure state funding.
On Tuesday night, Santa Clarita City Council endorsed the same management plan.

Jeff Ford, Water Resources Manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency, said all the agencies endorsing the plan will submit a grant application collectively under Proposition 84.

And, although the state budget is still being drafted, and the funds for such grants are not expected to be included in it, eventually the funds will become available and, when they do, the various Santa Clarita agencies that endorsed the plan will have their grant requests assessed.

“It’ll be a horse race for available funds,” Ford told The Signal Wednesday. “It’s really a matter of what funds are available and who it is we are competing for to get the money.”

In March 2007, the following agencies came together to draft a plan regarding their shared interests in the Santa Clara River Watershed: the Castaic Lake Water Agency, its retail arm the Santa Clarita Water Division, the Newhall County Water District, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of Los Angeles County, the city of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County Flood Control District and the Valencia Water Company.

They called themselves the Regional Water Management Group. “The easy part will have been getting each agency on board,” said Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency. “The more challenging part will be, first of all, getting the funding.”

When it comes to the Upper Santa Clara River, agencies that make up the Regional Water Management Group want the following objectives met:
n Reducing water demand by implementing technological, legislative and behavioral changes that would reduce demands for water
n Improving operational efficiency by making the water system operations more energy efficient
n Increasing the water supply by finding water supply sources
n Improving water quality by improving the quality of local groundwater
n Promoting resource “stewardship” by improving the health of the Santa Clara River ecosystem and improving flood management.

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