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Dan Masnada: SCV water suppliers complying with spirit and letter of the law

Guest commentary

Posted: February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

I would like to set the record straight regarding a recent column by Lynne Plambeck, which appeared in the Feb. 3 Signal: “Water plan needs closer examination.”

In the best interest of the entire community, it is important that the facts be known and that I clarify misstatements about the regional Urban Water Management Plan history, process and public-participation plan.

The water suppliers of this valley are proud of the work we do every day on behalf of our community. We also are proud of the hard work that has been and continues to be put into the comprehensive water-planning document, the regional Urban Water Management Plan.

The statement about litigation relating to the Santa Clarita Valley’s first UWMP in 2000 is misleading. The author misrepresents the outcome of that litigation, leading readers to believe the courts “ ... agreed with the environmental groups ...”  In fact, the trial court fully agreed with the local water suppliers.

Upon appeal by the local environmental activists, the appellate court found the water suppliers’ UWMP was appropriate in all its respects except one, and only requested them to update and broaden the section regarding perchlorate treatment to include a schedule indicating when the treatment facilities would be constructed and impacted well capacity would be returned to service. 

This was done by a simple amendment to the 2000 UWMP, which was prepared and adopted just one month after the court remanded the UWMP to us for revision. 

Plambeck also misrepresents the outcome of the 2005 UWMP litigation.

Yes, it is correct that the environmental activists brought a lawsuit — again regarding the UWMP document. What was not made clear, however, is that the trial court upheld the UWMP in totality and that the so-called settlement hyped in the Feb. 3 column did not result in one word of the document being changed.

We believe the plaintiffs offered to settle the lawsuit at no real legal or other cost to the water suppliers because even they recognized the futility of appealing yet another resounding legal defeat.

It was additionally misleading for Plambeck to suggest that the state Legislature “ ... agreed with environmental groups ...” regarding any aspect of that plan. New laws regarding UWMPs were enacted entirely unrelated to our 2005 UWMP.

The SCV water suppliers began work on the new regional UWMP during 2010, and have held five public workshops to date.

More than 100 community members, water partners, environmentalists, elected officials, business groups and other stakeholders have participated in the planning of this document to date.

Information has been presented regarding all aspects of the plan, including current and future water demands, local groundwater supplies, the State Water Project supply, recycled water and the new legislative requirements for water conservation.

Interestingly, despite being notified by certified mail of each workshop, neither Plambeck nor any representative from her organization has participated in any of the workshops.

Leaving aside the question of why she insists on criticizing development of the plan without having attended in any of the workshops to date, we can only suggest that she attend the next workshop to hear and see firsthand how the issues raised in her column have been, are being or will be addressed.

Just as important, she also would understand what is new in the proposed 2010 UWMP, and what remains unchanged from the previous court-affirmed plans.

The SCV water suppliers have gone far beyond the public-participation requirements cited in the UWMP regulations, which require only one public hearing.

We do this to comport with the spirit as well as the letter of the law, and to provide our community with every opportunity to provide feedback, input and suggestions as we plan for the future of our valley.

We will hold another workshop on March 8 at the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s office in Santa Clarita and encourage our community’s input and feedback on the contents of the UWMP.

Dan Masnada is general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency. E-mail him at dmasnada@clwa.org. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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