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| Saturday, Apr 2, 2016
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The Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District will hold the second community forum on their proposed merger Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Santa Clarita City Hall, 23920 W. Valencia Blvd.

The forum will focus on potential government processes required to create a new water district. The public will be asked to weigh in on these processes, ask questions and provide feedback.

Presenters include: Paul Novak, L.A. County Local Area Formation Commission; Steve Cole, General Manager, NCWD; and Matt Stone, General Manager, CLWA.

NCWD and CLWA have initiated preliminary discussions to potentially create a new public water agency uniquely suited for the Santa Clarita Valley. The new agency would combine the best attributes of the region’s current water providers, while creating efficiencies, resolving litigation, improving water resource management and, for the first time in our history, ensuring directly elected water representatives for all residents. The public is a critical part of this process. All residents will have the chance to shape a potential new agency to ensure it is uniquely suited for and built by Santa Clarita Valley residents.

 

BACKGROUND

 

THE FUTURE OF WATER IN THE SANTA CLARITA VALLEY

By B.J. Atkins, President, Newhall County Water District; and Tom Campbell, President, Castaic Lake Water Agency

 

During the past year, representatives of Newhall County Water District and Castaic Lake Water Agency have been meeting to settle ongoing litigation and in this process have discussed the potential to combine the two water providers into one new local water agency. While nothing is final, we think it is time to inform you, our customers, of this potential change, and to seek your input.

Our goal is to increase collaboration while strengthening water resource management.

In early 2015, we embarked on a collaborative process in an attempt to find common ground. These early talks led to consensus on several guiding principles:

* Enhance integrated water strategy and management

* Value an inclusive, open and transparent public process for water management

* Make ratepayer value and multiple stakeholder benefits a priority

* Listen to each other and work collaboratively; seek to understand opinions, especially opposing points of view

* Identify and prioritize issues that are important and worthy to address first

Negotiations continued in earnest throughout 2015. A team of leaders from each agency met several times per month to analyze specifics and talk through core issues. These discussions ultimately led to significant progress.

In December, representatives from each agency reached an agreement in principle on specific goals and conditions that, if met, could lead to new regional water governance in the Santa Clarita Valley. These foundational goals include:

* Think Regionally: A public agency would be created that would merge the functions of CLWA with the three major retail water providers: NCWD, the Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Co. The new successor water resource management agency would provide both local and imported water supply services to the Santa Clarita Valley

* Focus on the Customer: Sustain and improve the level of service customers have come to know and trust from their current water providers

* Protect Finances: Customers from a current water provider that carries little or no debt must not assume the financial debt of another water provider

* End Litigation: Resolve current legal disputes – and corresponding costs – between agencies

* Enhance Water Reliability: Together, the new public agency must integrate water resource management and strategies to enhance regional reliability

* Increase Efficiency: Over time, achieve efficiencies through economies of scale

While this is an important milestone, it simply marks the continuation – not the conclusion – of our process. The road before us remains long and requires intense regional collaboration, significant public engagement, potential legislative action and continued negotiations among all stakeholders. Nevertheless, it could lead to fundamental changes to how water services are provided and governed in the Santa Clarita Valley.

 

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR CUSTOMERS

First and foremost, customers can expect service to continue unchanged for the foreseeable future.

 

BUT WE DO NEED YOUR HELP

Public engagement is a major part of this process and we will need your input on critical issues. As progress continues, we anticipate public forums and numerous additional opportunities to engage in the process.

 

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE

Our path to this point has not been easy, nor is it complete. But we’ve chosen this process in hopes of resolving disputes amicably and increasing collaboration among our regional water providers on behalf of all Santa Clarita Valley residents. Our commitment to you is to continue these good-faith discussions in hopes of achieving a beneficial outcome moving us forward, together. In the meantime, we sincerely appreciate your patience, support and, most of all, involvement.

Comment On This Story
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10 Comments

  1. Gerry Staack says:

    No consolidation without a vote of Newhall County Water District Customers. We need transparency and not just framed visions.

  2. waterwatcher says:

    What a PR job. They even started their video clip by stealing that picture of the river which I am sure they did NOT have permission to use. That’s how CLWA is. Break the law and then complain when they get sued. Why would anyone want to lose Newhall County Water District and have it become a part of this inefficient, indebted water monopoly that wants to send all its water down to Newhall Ranch. (CLWA already promised this in the purchase contract CLWA made when it illegally acquired Valencia Water Co. from Newhall Land and Farming. They also promised them a bunch of that water they supposedly have banked for emergencies for current residents in Kern County. If you care about having a local water supply at all. you should turn out and protest this acquisition and the formation of this water monopoly. It will be bad for the Valley. It can ONLY be stopped by people turning out and opposing it. Please come to the Monday meeting and oppose this terrible idea.

    CLWA has indebted this valley’s water rate payers over a third of a BILLION dollars while no one was watching. Its time to start watching now. No action without a state audit of Castaic Lake Water Agency.

    And how much of our money are they spending now on PR to sell us a story about how wonderful a water monopoly will be?

  3. Stacey Vince Stacey Vince says:

    So, they are trying to create one big water board?

  4. waterwatcher says:

    OH, btw, want to oppose this water monopoly take over, but can’t come tomorrow night? You can write Paul Novak – LA Local Agency Formation Commission at:
    80 South Lake Avenue, Suite 870
    Pasadena, CA 91101

    Phone: (626)204-6500 Fax: (626) 204-6507 Fax

    Email: info@lalafco.org

  5. Stacy says:

    So tell me again how much debt CLWA has, and then I’d like see how much money NCWD has.

  6. Barbara Wampole says:

    I’d like to know where you obtained my photograph of the Santa Clara River the starts your video. It is copyrighted and you did not get my permission to use it. If you obtain my permission, you will need to give me credit for my photo.
    You can contact me via email.
    Barbara Wampole
    Vice Chair of Friends of the Santa Clara River

    • SCVNews.com says:

      We’ll go ahead and assume you’re talking directly to CLWA/NCWD, since we merely ran their video and didn’t produce it

  7. Barbara Wampole says:

    Oh, and by the way, it appears you expect us to trust your judgement about fair and accurate information about our water supply. The US Army Corp of Engineers could get permission for my photo, The Nature Conservancy could obtain permission. You will need to take it off your website until you get permission.
    Thank you
    Barbara Wampole
    Vice Chair of Friends of the Santa Clara River

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