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October 20
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]


With the stroke of his pen Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District and replaced them with a new water agency for the Santa Clarita Valley.

The new agency will assume the duties of CLWA and NCWD and serve the entire valley as both a state water retailer and water wholesaler – except in Val Verde, where customers will continue to purchase water from the L.A. County-controlled Water Works District 36.

CLWA, which formed in 1962 as a state water distributor, has been functioning as both a wholesaler and retailer in part of its service area since 1999 when it purchased the once-private Santa Clarita Water Co. from Saugus homebuilder Bill Bonelli’s heirs. In 2012 it also bought The Newhall Land and Farming Co.’s water retailer, Valencia Water Co., which has continued to function as a separate retail arm of CLWA. Both acquisitions survived court challenges by local environmental activists who have questioned CLWA’s water supply projections.

Newhall County Water District was originally Newhall Water Co. in 1913. It became a public agency in 1953 when it still served only Newhall. As urban sprawl occurred in recent decades, NCWD started serving unconnected “pockets” of the SCV – notably Castaic, Tesoro del Valle and eastern Canyon Country – with its own patchwork of water transmission lines and pumping stations crisscrossing Valencia and Santa Clarita Water territory.

Now, with the exception of Water Works District 36, all will be one entity with a 15-person board of whom 14 will be publicly elected. (One seat is reserved for a county District 36 representative.)

“Thank you to Senator Scott Wilk, Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District for your vision and hard hard work. I know we have additional work ahead,” NCWD Board President Maria Gutzeit said in a social media post.

“I think you have to salute the board of directors for (CLWA and NCWD) to realize what’s in the best interest of our ratepayers,” Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, told KHTS AM-1220, “and for them to come together after years of litigation to create this new agency.”

The two agencies had been at odds. NCWD was suing CLWA over a hike in the wholesale water rate. At one point, CLWA countersued, accusing NCWD of a procedural violation. The countersuit was thrown out, but the underlying rate dispute continued. NCWD challenged the legality of CLWA’s acquisition of Valencia Water Co. and accused CLWA of raising rates to fund the purchase. Ultimately the two agencies decided to settle their differences through a merger.

Brown signed the bill without issuing a public statement.

Wilk’s legislation, SB634, cancels the prior CLWA organizing law and authorizes the new agency to “provide, sell, manage, and deliver surface water, groundwater and recycled water at retail or wholesale within the agency’s territory.”

All assets of CLWA and NCWD become property of the new “Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency,” and all employees of CLWA and NCWD are automatically employees of the new agency. The new agency “may continue to levy, impose, or fix and collect any previously authorized charge, fee, assessment or tax approved, imposed and levied by the Castaic Lake Water Agency or the Newhall County Water District, or both, including but not limited to any rates, fees and charges for the provision of water.” The new agency must continue to provide state water to District 36.

The law requires the new agency to dissolve Valencia Water Co. as a separate entity and absorb it in the first half of 2018.

For electoral purposes, the new agency is divided into three geographic regions. Initially, its 15 members will be the five elected members of the NCWD board and the nine elected members of the CLWA board, plus one appointed seat for District 36.

“Economic impact and efficiency studies found that the new district will generate millions of dollars in savings, create more transparency for the ratepayer and enhance environmental and watershed protections,” Wilk said in a previous statement.

“Late last year the boards of the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District voted to dissolve the two agencies and create a new valley-wide water agency,” Wilk’s statement said. “Senate Bill 634 is the fruit of those negotiations.” The legislation “brings a large, private water company into public ownership (Valencia Water Co.), adding transparency requirements and voter control where none exists today.”

 

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16 Comments

  1. Oh boy more big government! Watch the rate increases.

  2. A monopoly in water delivery services? What could go wrong?

  3. Dean Wise Dean Wise says:

    Socialist State rule

    • Joseph Schwartz says:

      #Dean Wise before blaming this on “socialist” rule it appears you’ve overlooked that this was proposed by Mr Will, a guy with an “R” after his name and probably offended now that you called him a socialist.

  4. Mickey Valenti says:

    Another change signed into effect without the input or approval of middle class taxpayers who can no longer afford to shoulder the burden of nonsensical changes like this.

  5. Is it truly a monopoly? Did anyone get a choice as to which agency previously got the water to your house?

  6. John Whitlaw John Whitlaw says:

    So they can charge us more for our water with a 27 percent increase our the next 3 years already coming where does it stop

  7. Kurt Buck Kurt Buck says:

    SCWC are a bunch of crooks.

  8. Shouldn’t it have been us voting for or against!What a bunch of crooks!

  9. David Stolp David Stolp says:

    Is there no end to their shame

  10. Brian says:

    If Brown signed it then it’s great for the never seen a rate increase I didn’t like CA government, and crappy
    for us. Hang onto your wallets.

  11. waterwatcher says:

    With the stoke of his pen, he eliminated the best functioning water district in this valley without a public vote and legitimized a corporate water grab for Lennar/Fivepoint for Newhall Ranch. You would think that a Dem legislature would look more closely at a Republican bill, but apparently they don’t bother when it comes from a Republican-controlled community. And of course Brown would sign it with his sister sitting on the Fivepoint Board making #122,000 a year.

  12. Karen Blixen Karen Blixen says:

    Brown is a Buffoon!

  13. jim says:

    Ahah! But all of us did approve this sweeping takeover of all the water coming into the SCV and all of the water that actually is IN the SCV.

    We did it by not paying attention, and by not listening to the few voices out there that tried to warn us. And because not enough of us did any of that, all the chances to stop this steamroller were lost.

    This bandwagon has been rolling for two years (longer if you count the take-over of SCWD and Valencia Water), and they used the best possible method for success; they down-played and fast-forwarded every single step so that no one would notice.

    And most of us didn’t notice at all. And don’t blame Gov. Ancient Moonbeam for this since he’s only doing what he has been doing for a long time. And that is making California Better – for folks like him.

    And I don’t mean Democrats, either; I mean the ruling class of rich, politically connected and deeply embedded folks who actually run this state. Regardless of the (D) or (R) behind their names, they are all playing in the 2nd biggest high stakes poker game in this Country.

    The Game? Consolidation of power, through legal and sub rosa means such as harmless-sounding legislation that actually puts more local issues under The States’s control.

    So, how did they do this? How did this happen?

    Nobody paid attention, except for a few dozen folks who feel so strongly about these issues that they MADE time to keep track. And they wrote commentaries here that nobody read.

    Go ahead and focus your attention for more than 5 minutes and search the archives here on SCVNews.com. This is not a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

    Except of course, 98% of the SCV won’t do that, since only about 5 percent care enough to take the time and energy to find out what is really going on.

    But wait! There is a new article here at SCVnews.com that will let you know everything about what is going to be so much better! Just go here: https://scvnews.com/2017/10/16/next-step-water-agency-officials-to-share-merger-details/

    And I’m sure you will feel comforted that these fine people are looking out for your best interests and welfare here in StepfordClarita Valley.

Leave a Comment


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