The city of Santa Clarita and county of Los Angeles will have shared responsibility for groundwater management under a state law that the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is preparing to implement fully Tuesday.
The city, county, Water Works District 36 (Val Verde) and SCV Water will be the members of a brand-new public entity called the SCV Groundwater Sustainability Agency, if the SCV Water directors green-light the draft joint powers authority agreement as expected.
The new agency’s purpose is to streamline funding and speed compliance with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 with an eye toward lessening the effects of long-term drought.
Initial steps were taken a year and a half ago after the law took effect. In May 2017 the Castaic Lake Water Agency, Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division and the city, county and District 36 signed a memorandum of understanding to create the new agency. Since that time, Castaic Lake, Newhall County and Santa Clarita Water, along with the Valencia Water Co., have morphed into SCV Water.
Tuesday’s action will give the “SCV-GSA” a formal governance structure, making it a separate government agency subject to the Brown Act. Up to now, decisions on funding and contracts have required each signatory representative to seek approval from his or her own board.
The creation of the SCV-GWA marks the first time the city and county have a voice in the management of the SCV’s groundwater supply, known as the Santa Clara River Valley East Sub-basin. Historically, water agencies have had sole responsibility for groundwater management.
Under the agreement, SCV Water will manage the new agency; its staff will perform the physical work, and SCV Water would bear most of the cost burden. The city, county and District 36 would each contribute $20,000 annually.
SCV Water would appoint four members to the new seven-member SCV-GSA board of directors, while the Santa Clarita City Council, the county Board of Supervisors and District 36 would each name one.
Routine decisions would require four affirmative votes, so the non-SCV Water members can’t act alone (but SCV Water can); however, important decisions require a “supermajority” of five affirmative votes, so SCV Water can’t make major decisions on its own.
Major decisions include, among other things, the adoption of a groundwater management plan; approval of the annual budget; and levying fees or taxes.
The joint-powers agreement describes the new agency’s coordination, responsibilities, funding, consideration of interests of all beneficial uses and users of groundwater, and other items.
For more information, visit the SCV-GWA page on the SCV Water website.