Lo­cal of­fi­cials set to sup­port WaterFix plan

Pro­ject to im­prove de­liv­ery sys­tem to cost SCV ratepay­ers an ex­tra $20 a month

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer

Lo­cal wa­ter of­fi­cials were poised to en­dorse a plan to fix the sys­tem which de­liv­ers wa­ter to the Santa Clarita Val­ley from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia at a cost to mom-and-pop SCV ratepay­ers of $20 a month.

The pro­ject ham­mered out by state of­fi­cials these past 10 years to re­pair the wa­ter con­veyance sys­tem is called the Cal­i­for­nia WaterFix. It used to be called the Bay Delta Con­ser­va­tion Pro­ject.

On Wednesday night, in an ef­fort to make a more in­formed de­ci­sion, mem­bers of the Cas­taic Lake Wa­ter Agency board heard from other stake­hold­ers.

And, while rep­re­sen­ta­tives of four dif­fer­ent agen­cies rep­re­sent­ing the state, county and other in­ter­ests of­fered dif­fer­ing views on what was needed to re­pair the San Jao­quin Delta, all agreed that the Delta is frag­ile and needs fix­ing if South­ern Cal­i­for­nia is to con­tinue re­ceiv­ing a re­li­able sup­ply of wa­ter from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Half of the wa­ter con­sumed in the SCV comes from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia via the CLWA, the other half comes from lo­cal ground­wa­ter wells.

“Each and ev­ery State Wa­ter Pro­ject con­trac­tor sup­ports this pro­ject,” Jen­nifer Pierre, spokes­woman for the State Wa­ter Con­trac­tors told the CLWA board.

“This pro­ject has been un­der plan­ning for a decade with some of the bright­est minds work­ing to­gether,” she said. “And, this pro­ject has the po­ten­tial to se­cure sup­ply re­li­a­bil­ity.”

What it means for SCV ratepay­ers is that fix­ing the wa­ter de­liv­ery in­fra­struc­ture - even at a cost per house­hold of an ex­tra $20 a month - en­sures wa­ter will be brought here from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia across the San Joaquin Delta.

Stephen N. Arakawa, rep­re­sent­ing the state’s largest group con­tract­ing with the state to re­ceive wa­ter un­der the terms of the State Wa­ter Pro­ject the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Wa­ter Dis­trict of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia which serves all of Los Angeles - said the “Met” has al­ready com­mit­ted to help­ing fund the

WaterFix pro­ject.

“We need to fix the Delta,” Arakawa told The CLWA board, not­ing four cru­cial fac­tors af­fect­ing the fu­ture of the Delta.

Risks to the Delta in­clude: ris­ing sea lev­els, a con­tin­ual drop in the land called sub­si­dence, seis­mic ac­tiv­ity and de­clin­ing fish stocks.

Be­fore hear­ing from other agen­cies on the topic, the board was given a rec­om­men­da­tion to sup­port the Cal­i­for­nia WaterFix pro­gram.

The CLWA is SCV’s wa­ter whole­saler and one of 29 agen­cies con­tract­ing with the state to re­ceive wa­ter from North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Pierre re­minded the CLWA board that eight of the 29 agen­cies had al­ready voted in fa­vor of en­dors­ing the WaterFix pro­grams.

Board mem­bers heard from each speaker that the pro­ject will cost a to­tal of $17 bil­lion dol­lars,

with an av­er­age yearly op­er­at­ing cost of be­tween $1 bil­lion to $1.5 bil­lion.

Cal­i­for­nia WaterFix and Eco Re­store - for­merly known as the Bay Delta Con­ser­va­tion Plan - was pro­posed by Gover­nor Jerry Brown.

It in­volves build­ing twin tun­nels over 30 miles, each 40 feet in di­am­e­ter and buried 150 feet un­der­ground.

Fund­ing for the pro­ject, how­ever, comes from SCV ratepay­ers and tax­pay­ers across the state.

Specif­i­cally, lo­cal fund­ing for WaterFix would come out of the CLWA-set prop­erty tax rate which cur­rently pays for the State Wa­ter Pro­ject.

CLWA staffers es­ti­mate the cost of the pro­ject - for an av­er­age $500,000 per SCV home - would be about $20 per month.

The av­er­age SCV fam­ily al­ready look­ing at dou­ble digit wa­ter rate in­creases over the next three years, would pay an ad­di­tional $240 a year.

To do noth­ing, CLWA of­fi­cials ar­gue, would end up cost­ing SCV res­i­dents more in the long run.

Build­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the pro­ject would “sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the Agency’s State Wa­ter Pro­ject wa­ter sup­ply to Delta levee fail­ures,” Dirk Marks, the agency’s wa­ter re­sources man­ager, wrote in memo to the CLWA board.

“With­out the WaterFix it is likely that the re­li­a­bil­ity of the State Wa­ter Pro­ject will con­tinue to de­cline from its ex­ist­ing 60 per­cent,” Marks wrote in his memo.

What he means is that the frag­ile and crum­bling con­di­tion of the San Joaquin Delta through which North­ern Cal­i­for­nia wa­ter is de­liv­ered will con­tinue to de­te­ri­o­rate if noth­ing is done to fix it. And, if noth­ing is done, SCV will likely get less wa­ter than the 60 per­cent amount al­ready al­lo­cated to the SCV.

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