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March 20
2012 - County supervisors approve 50-year operating agreement for Placerita Canyon State Park [read]

Commentary by Sen. Sharon Runner
| Friday, Nov 6, 2015
Sen. Sharon Runner

Sen. Sharon Runner

On Thursday, Oct. 15, a severe thunderstorm hit Northern Los Angeles County resulting in flooding and catastrophic mudslides that caused significant property damage, closed down major roadways and trapped people in their vehicles.

Many roads in Los Angeles County were buried under six feet of mud, and the 5 Freeway just north of Santa Clarita was completely shut down in both directions. The mudslides also damaged a portion of the California aqueduct that brings water from Northern California and caused substantial damage to multiple water treatment plants.

Officials tell us that thanks to El Niño we could be in for a wet winter, meaning this could be the first of many storms to hit Southern California. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the current El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has a 95-percent chance of continuing through winter.

It is important for local, state and federal agencies to prepare for mudslides and flooding and have plans in place to mitigate the damage future storms could cause. Keeping our neighborhoods safe and protected is top priority.

However, there is another aspect of El Niño we need to prepare for — capturing the rainfall to help alleviate our current drought.

California is in the fourth year of a catastrophic drought, currently experiencing the driest years on record since 1895. We are not in a position to let even one drop of water go to waste.

In 2014, Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency due to the drought stating, “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens.” Governor Brown is right, we can’t make it rain. But, we can take steps to make sure our state is in the best possible position to use whatever water comes our way.

I recently joined my fellow Legislative Republicans to engage Governor Brown and President Obama on this very issue. [Our letter] requested information about what federal and state agencies plan to do to capture El Niño rainfall for our use.

I am looking forward to hearing their answers as well as continuing to work towards a long term solution to California’s water needs.

Unfortunately, our state’s environmental policies often get our priorities mixed up. For years my fellow Republicans and I have called for investment in more long term water storage. We need to increase water storage to provide California with long term, reliable water sources. Without adequate water storage, we cannot take advantage of the good years when rain is plentiful.

One season of increased rainfall will not end the drought, but, if handled correctly, it could certainly provide some much needed relief.


Sharon Runner represents most of the Santa Clarita Valley as well as the Antelope and Victor valleys in the state Senate.


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  1. water watcher says:

    While I absolutely agree with Sen Runner about capturing rainfall, the projects should have been started years ago. Land use in water re-charge ares should have been curtailed to reduce flooding and promote ground water re-charge. Permeable pavement should have been required in parking lots, cisterns should have been required and slopped lots to capture rainfall. We asked for such things for many years. The response from the Council and Supervisors was that development was more important, permeable pavement cost the poor developers too much money, etc. Now everyone is hurting from lack of water and ir may be too late to institute these simple land use requirements in many areas. We’ll see if Vista Canyon, that builds completely in the flood plain and narrows the river will cause flooding. It will be interesting.

  2. Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D. says:

    Actually, collection of rain runoff would be invaluable rectifying our present drought considering almost all is already lost to the ocean.

    Why though do we turn to federal and state governments asking them for answers, when we should be presenting them with solutions?

    Here are some of mine from a non-water engineer:

    Re-direct water to the depleted underground aquifers. If we get some of our water from them, we must be able to put some back.

    Make sure all reservoirs and lake receive runoffs and are filled to capacity. Castaic Lake, Van Norman Lakes Reservoir, San Luis Reservoir (where I believe Santa Clarita receives it’s water) can all use a few more drops.

    Fill all water tanks (they’re all over our community on tops of hills) to the brink.

    Tax incentivize home collection from gutters into barrels.

    Use our collective ingenuity to bring ideas forward, and not just look to government for answers. Rain water going into the ocean is a waste, so let’s work together to reclaim Mother Nature’s essence of life.

    Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

  3. Bart Joseph says:

    There are two policies that need to change. First is fire protection. Allowing forrests to burn creates heating od the soil and the dead olants can not reduce our carbon footprint. The second is water ownership. Rain water is not the governments property. If so, there needs to be accountability to the public

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