Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee are putting their heads together as they strive to develop a consensus on how the SCV can best meet the state’s most recent water conservation mandates and ensure compliance with state restrictions on water use.
“This is all about developing a cohesive strategy, while still recognizing that each of the valley’s water suppliers faces its own unique set of challenges and circumstances,” said Mauricio Guardado, Chair of the SCV Water Committee and Retail Manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s Santa Clarita Water Division. “We’re working toward a common general approach to enforcement and achieving compliance, but each of the water retailers will adopt its own specific measures.”
Regarding enforcement, the water retailers entered today’s session with a general sense of agreement on one basic principle: They don’t want to issue fines, but if they have to, they will.
“Our approach has and continues to be education first. That is our primary role as local water providers,” said Steve Cole, General Manager of the Newhall County Water District. “But this drought is serious, so we must collectively step up our enforcement efforts as a region. That includes potential fines for those who are consistently out of compliance with State law.”
Last summer, the Water Committee — whose members include the four local water retailers, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, and city and county representatives — took the first step in that direction by agreeing on an action plan that prohibits water-wasting activities such as over-irrigation that causes runoff and washing down driveways and sidewalks, and imposed an odd-even system of irrigation days. The four retailers each then enacted their own specific conservation measures consistent with the agreed-upon action plan.
A similar process is under way now, with the Water Committee meeting today to address the state’s latest actions restricting water use.
As California’s record-setting drought continues through a fourth consecutive dry year, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in April calling for mandatory water conservation by all residents. The Governor directed that additional immediate actions be taken to conserve water supplies. In response, on May 5 the State Water Resources Control Board amended its emergency regulations to achieve a 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use statewide.
The emergency state regulation prohibits additional activities such as irrigating after it rains and mandates how much each water retailer’s customers must conserve. To achieve the statewide 25 percent urban water use reduction, the state adopted a nine-tiered system requiring water suppliers to achieve conservation levels ranging from 8 percent to 36 percent, with 2013 serving as the baseline year. Those suppliers with higher per capita water use were assigned higher conservation mandates.
In the SCV, the three largest retailers’ requirements are 24 percent for the Valencia Water Co., 28 percent for the Newhall County Water District and 32 percent for SCWD. Los Angeles County’s Waterworks District 36, which serves about 1,300 connections in Val Verde, is required to either achieve a 25 percent reduction or restrict irrigation to no more than twice per week under the state’s requirements that apply to small water suppliers serving less than 3,000 connections.
Keith Abercrombie, General Manager of Valencia Water Co., said, “The SCV Water Committee today is developing the blueprint for regulations that the retailers will individually enact in the days and weeks ahead. Along with enforcing prohibitions on water-wasting activities, the water retailers will be calling on their customers to aggressively conserve water; otherwise the water retailers will be subject to fines assessed by the State Water Resources Control Board of up to $10,000 per day.”
Each of the retailers will be developing the means to incentivize individual customer conservation. Because most of the water in the Santa Clarita Valley is used for outdoor irrigation, decisive action is needed now to reduce high summer water demand. Otherwise, achieving the conservation mandates will become impossible.
“All of the local water suppliers and their ratepayers have one big thing in common: We’re all being asked to do more, perhaps much more, to help ensure that California gets through this drought with its water supply intact,” Abercrombie said. “While we’re fortunate here in the SCV to have a diverse water supply portfolio and a significant amount of water in reserve, this drought is serious business for everyone in California, and the Governor expects all the state’s residents to comply.”
Information on each agency’s water conservation efforts, along with water-saving tips, can be found online at:
Santa Clarita Water Division: santaclaritawater.com
Valencia Water Company: valenciawater.com
About the SCV Water Committee:
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Committee, formerly known as the SCV Drought Committee, was formed in 2008 to bring multiple agencies together to jointly respond to drought conditions in the Santa Clarita Valley. The committee meets regularly to monitor water supply conditions and prepare actions that may need to be taken in the event of drought. Its members include Castaic Lake Water Agency, the City of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County and the four local water purveyors: Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 36, Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company.
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