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CORRECTION: Meet the water board

Corrects amount that could be added to residents' sewer fees due to chloride solution

Posted: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

During the three years the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District has wrestled with a less costly way to remove chloride from the Santa Clara River, the water quality board to which it answers has seen a shift in its makeup.

Gone are the two Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board members with strong ties to Ventura County agricultural interests – the very interests demanding that Santa Clarita Valley residents reduce the salt ion in the river that some downstream farmers say damages their crops.

Jeanette Lombardo of Ventura was a board member endorsed by a coalition of Ventura business interests called the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara, which represents many agricultural interests. She is no longer on the board.

Camarillo resident Steve Blois, who built his business reputation on developing water infrastructure between the Santa Clarita Valley and the ocean, is also no longer on the board.

But neither does the Santa Clarita Valley have a representative on the seven-member board.

If there’s a common thread among the current board members, their profiles suggest, they are well-meaning Democrat environmentalists, most of whom live in upscale areas. Four of the seven current members live in Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Ojai and Beverly Hills.

Ventura profile
And, if Ventura County lost an ally with the departure of Lombardo and Camarillo from the board, the void was filled by Lawrence Yee, the board’s most recent appointee, who spent more than 15 years working to sustain Ventura County agriculture.

Yee ran the Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center based in Santa Paula.

The group’s vision is: “A Ventura County with an economically healthy and environmentally sustainable agricultural industry that is well understood and actively supported by the local community.”

Its goals are:
- Assure the economic viability of agriculture to sustain agriculture’s contribution to a healthy Ventura County;
- Increase the public understanding and support of agriculture, including the relationship of agriculture to the economy and the natural resource base;
- Study, discuss, and debate agricultural/urban issues for better policy decisions and achieving balance among competing interests.
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Yee to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board in February last year.

Board profile
California has nine regional water quality control boards, all charged with maintaining water quality in their areas.The Los Angeles region includes all of Los Angeles County, Ventura County and “small portions” of Kern and Santa Barbara counties.

Board members are appointed by the governor.

Santa Clarita Valley residents hooked up to the sewer system have been ordered to pay a $225,000 fine and asked to approve a plan to reduce future chloride in the river to a level of 100 milligrams per liter. Saying “no” would result in escalating fines, sanitation district officials say. Saying “yes” would cost a single-family home owner $125 to $265 or more a year and could double sewer fees for businesses.

The question now seems: Is there any chance decision-making on the demand for low chloride levels in the Santa Clara River might tip in favor of the Santa Clarita Valley?

The board members themselves aren’t talking. The Signal contacted members for interviews and was told the pending fine against the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District prohibits members from discussing SCV chloride issues.

“Because the enforcement action is still pending, Ms. (Maria Luisa) Camacho is prohibited from engaging in ex parte communications concerning the subject matter of the enforcement action and cannot personally respond to your email or discuss the issue,” board Executive Officer Samuel Unger wrote, referring to the $225,000 fine the board leveled in November.

Three years ago, then-chairwoman of the board Mary Anne Lutz had this response to questions about chloride in the river:

“The chloride level is not something set in stone.”

“One of the things you do when you set the (maximum allowable chloride level) is you look at the beneficial uses of the water,” Lutz said. “And agriculture as a beneficial use is definitely on the list.”

“Sometimes, when it seems by the dischargers that we’re over protective, it’s because their use and the main use are different. When you’re talking about chloride in the Santa Clara River, agriculture as a beneficial use trumps” any other.

Current board members are:

Maria Luis Camacho
Residence: Beverly Hills
Appointed by: Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011
A certified mediator and former director of public affairs for the J.S. Rosenfield and Company which renovates shopping “environments” in locations that have included Brentwood and Santa Monica, Camacho also sits on the Stanford University Board of Governors and was a co-mediator for the Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution in 2005.
At 34 years old she is the director of Consensus, Inc. a strategic communications and engagement firm.
In 2006, Camacho, a Democrat, was hired as director of community relations and government affairs for a boutique real estate development firm in West Los Angeles, where she navigated a team of property owners through the process of re-creating a Westwood Village Business Improvement District and offered strategic counsel on outreach efforts surrounding future development projects, according to her online biography.

Maria Mehranian
Residence: La Canada-Flintridge
Appointed by: Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008, re-appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011
Mehranian, 56, a Democrat, is chairwoman of the water board. She works for the Cordoba Corporation, an engineering firm whose projects include hydrology, and is responsible for the company’s financial planning.
She has been the firm’s managing partner since 1992 and previously served as vice president of urban-transportation planning from 1986 to 1992 and has served on the La Canada-Flintridge Planning Commission.
Mehranian has a degree in urban planning from UCLA and an economics degree from the American College in Tehran, Iran.
Helping to raise money to improve drinking-water conditions in Martakert, Azerbaijan, and for several other community help projects there including construction of a hospital, Mehranian took a lead role in the Armenia Fund Telethon.

Charles Stringer
Residence: Los Angeles
Appointed by: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010
Charles Stringer, 49, started his career as a commercial litigator and serves as principal and general counsel with the Los Angeles-based Renewable Resources Group which provides environmental advisory services relating to sustainable and renewable power and water projects.
A Democrat, Stringer worked as legal counsel and senior policy adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to more than 20 American Indian tribes in the western United States.
From 1999 to 2001, he served as senior policy advisor for Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission from 1999 to 2001, and, before that, as senior assistant tribal attorney for White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Francine Diamond
Residence: Pacific Palisades
Appointed by: Gov. Gray Davis in 1999
Francine B. Diamond, 70, serves on the board of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the California League of Conservation Voters and is a member of the city of Los Angeles’ Proposition O Citizens Oversight Advisory Commission which, in 2004, authorized the City of Los Angeles to issue a series of general obligation bonds for up to $500 million for projects to protect water quality and public health by cleaning up pollution, including bacteria and trash, in the City’s watercourses, beaches and the ocean, in order to meet Federal Clean Water Act requirements.
Diamond, a Democrat, runs her own media firm called Francine Diamond Communications and previously for Media Partners from 1994 to 2003.
In an interview with The Signal in 2010, she said, “The Santa Clara River is probably the most natural river in Southern California. It is extremely important that it be protected. The (maximum allowable chloride levels) are based on what we thought and what we believe is sound science and according to the Clean Water Act.”
Diamond’s term expires next year.

Madelyn Glickfeld
Residence: Malibu
Appointed by: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010
Madelyn Janet Glickfeld, a 64-year-old Democrat, is the assistant director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Stainability. She serves on the California Advisory Board for the Trust for Public Land.
She heads a company devoted to conservation planning, serving as president of MJG Inc. since 1977. Through her work with MJG Inc., she’s conducted statewide strategic planning for the California State Parks system and has worked with local governments on conservation projects.
She’s also done research and consulting on storm-water management in large-scale developments. Glickfeld spoke out against a rush to build new homes in Malibu in 1990 as a member of the California Coastal Commission.
Her term ends next spring.

Irma Munoz
Residence: Los Angeles
Appointed by: Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011
Irma Muñoz, 60, a Democrat, is president, CEO and founder of an environmental equity organization called Mujeres de la Tierra. The firm teaches women and their children to take ownership and leadership of neighborhood issues and challenges. She is co-chairwoman for L.A. Greens, an urban ecosystems work group and has been senior manager with the Los Angeles-based environmental organization - TreePeople.
She was national director of marketing and customer service for the United States Small Business Administration from 1994 to 2000 and worked as a public relations and community affairs executive with the Centre City Development Corporation.
She was also instrumental in the naming of a highway in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. She worked on the first ever AIDS organization set up to focus on families and children of color.

Lawrence Yee
Residence: Ojai
Appointed by: Gov. Jerry Brown in Feb 2012
Lawrence Yee, 63, a Democrat, serves as the co-founder and coordinating director for the Food Commons, a large national project dedicated to designing and developing a new economic paradigm and whole systems approach for regional food.
Yee held a variety of positions at the University of California Cooperative Extension from 1975 to 2008, including director of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Ventura County from 1986 to 2008. The co-op ran the UC Hansen Agricultural Center.
For more than 15 years, as director of the co-op, Yee set out to sustain Ventura County agriculture through research and education.
Yee received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Santa Clara University.

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