Campbell & Atkins: Opportunities of a new public water district

By Signal Contributor

Last update: Monday, December 5th, 2016

It is an exciting time for water users in the Santa Clarita Valley.

For the past year, Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District have explored the potential for creating a new public water district for the Santa Clarita Valley.

The goal has been to find better ways to serve residents and businesses while enhancing regional water management for the future.

Through extensive study and collaboration, we are proud to report a new water district shows great promise and many benefits. A study released Nov. 16 details the economics, enhanced water management and efficiencies of a new district, including:

This study was largely guided by the public, which was engaged throughout this process and provided priorities for a new district. These priorities were incorporated throughout the report.

All SCV residents are encouraged to review the complete study at www.YourSCVWater.com.

Beyond these benefits, it is important we explain how a new water district would work for you, our customers.

 The new district would replace the Newhall County Water District, Castaic Lake Water Agency and the agency’s division, Santa Clarita Water Division. It would include both wholesale and retail water functions.

The wholesale function would purchase and distribute imported water from the state of California to retail customers. The new retail function would serve water directly to all homes and businesses served currently but independently by the Newhall County and Santa Clarita retail districts.

This system would generate the efficiencies that can lead to millions of dollars in annual savings. It would create the economies of scale needed to build important regional projects, like recycled water systems and improved groundwater management.

A Directly Elected Board of Directors: Santa Clarita Valley residents would directly elect all members of the new board.  This board would govern both functions of the new district.

Three divisions each having about 100,000 citizens would be created to ensure all corners of the valley have equal representation.

The divisions are designed to include communities of interest, so voters in the eastside of the SCV would have the same power as those in the West Side.

Enhanced Water Service: Once established, the new district would begin to integrate a water system in place of the current one, which operates in silos.

This would maximize the use of existing pipelines and infrastructure for future projects, like recycled water.

Other functions like IT and customer service systems would become integrated over time. This integration will lead to other customer benefits through lower costs and even better service.

To be sure, forming a new district is not without challenges. To assure a smooth transition, the two existing water agencies worked closely to overcome these challenges.

ome proposals that have emerged from those talks include:

 Ratepayer advocacy: A new, independent ratepayer advocate would review any fee or rate change and provide the board and public an objective analysis in clear, easy-to-understand terms.

The proposal for a new water district is the result of collaboration between the two water purveyors and the public. It focused on what we do well and what we agree on.

The economic benefits are clear; the improved operating efficiencies and enhanced water management opportunities are many.

The formation of a new public water district demonstrates great promise and an exciting future for water in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Please visit www.YourSCVWater.com for upcoming milestones and more information.

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Campbell & Atkins: Opportunities of a new public water district

Opinion - santa clarita news

It is an exciting time for water users in the Santa Clarita Valley.

For the past year, Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District have explored the potential for creating a new public water district for the Santa Clarita Valley.

The goal has been to find better ways to serve residents and businesses while enhancing regional water management for the future.

Through extensive study and collaboration, we are proud to report a new water district shows great promise and many benefits. A study released Nov. 16 details the economics, enhanced water management and efficiencies of a new district, including:

  • $14 million in savings during the first 10 years
  • A locally accountable and accessible elected board of directors
  • An innovative financial structure which avoids sharing old debt within a new district
  • A stronger, more integrated regional water delivery system
  • Reductions in duplicated external services
  • Stronger ability to build regional projects, like recycled water facilities.

This study was largely guided by the public, which was engaged throughout this process and provided priorities for a new district. These priorities were incorporated throughout the report.

All SCV residents are encouraged to review the complete study at www.YourSCVWater.com.

Beyond these benefits, it is important we explain how a new water district would work for you, our customers.

 The new district would replace the Newhall County Water District, Castaic Lake Water Agency and the agency’s division, Santa Clarita Water Division. It would include both wholesale and retail water functions.

The wholesale function would purchase and distribute imported water from the state of California to retail customers. The new retail function would serve water directly to all homes and businesses served currently but independently by the Newhall County and Santa Clarita retail districts.

This system would generate the efficiencies that can lead to millions of dollars in annual savings. It would create the economies of scale needed to build important regional projects, like recycled water systems and improved groundwater management.

A Directly Elected Board of Directors: Santa Clarita Valley residents would directly elect all members of the new board.  This board would govern both functions of the new district.

Three divisions each having about 100,000 citizens would be created to ensure all corners of the valley have equal representation.

The divisions are designed to include communities of interest, so voters in the eastside of the SCV would have the same power as those in the West Side.

Enhanced Water Service: Once established, the new district would begin to integrate a water system in place of the current one, which operates in silos.

This would maximize the use of existing pipelines and infrastructure for future projects, like recycled water.

Other functions like IT and customer service systems would become integrated over time. This integration will lead to other customer benefits through lower costs and even better service.

To be sure, forming a new district is not without challenges. To assure a smooth transition, the two existing water agencies worked closely to overcome these challenges.

ome proposals that have emerged from those talks include:

 Ratepayer advocacy: A new, independent ratepayer advocate would review any fee or rate change and provide the board and public an objective analysis in clear, easy-to-understand terms.

  • Supermajority voting: Certain items, like taking on debt, would require a supermajority vote of the new district’s board.
  • No sharing of debt: Existing debt of Newhall County Water District and Santa Clarita Water Division would not be shifted or shared among the valley areas outside those districts.
  • End costly litigation: One important outcome of creating a new district – it would end what has become an expensive legal conflict between Newhall County and Castaic Lake.

The proposal for a new water district is the result of collaboration between the two water purveyors and the public. It focused on what we do well and what we agree on.

The economic benefits are clear; the improved operating efficiencies and enhanced water management opportunities are many.

The formation of a new public water district demonstrates great promise and an exciting future for water in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Please visit www.YourSCVWater.com for upcoming milestones and more information.

About the author

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor

  • tech

    Moderation test.

    • Nan yabez

      My comments keep getting deleted

  • tech

    “This study was largely guided by the public, which was engaged throughout this process and provided priorities for a new district. These priorities were incorporated throughout the report.”

    While I’m amused at the marketing speak “guided by the public” assertion, I note the report is the first instance of content beyond PR flacking of talking points intended to lead one inexorably to a predetermined conclusion.

    I’ll review it to determine if it’s an objective and independent cost/benefit analysis of the proposed merger.

  • Jim de Bree

    Excellent comments tech. I have to admit that the situation involving SCV water is one of the most confusing aspects of living here. I feel as though all of the material we have been presented merely obfuscate the underlying situation.

    Would really appreciate seeing your thoughts on the matter.

    • Nan yabez

      Does anyone know why Valencia water is no longer included in the discussion?

      Or what happens to the $300M of current debt that CLWA has?

      Is there a bankruptcy, or debt restructuring on the horizon?

      How much did this Op-Ed cost the ratepayers?

      There’s at least 2 directives to the PR firm website, does anyone else need that many pointers?

      Will there be a special election to create this newly elected board, for a newly created agency?

      Can you dissolve an agency that’s a third of a billion dollars in debt, and create a new agency from the ashes?

  • Nan yabez

    Does anyone know why Valencia water is no longer included in the discussion?

    Or what happens to the $300M of current debt that CLWA has?

    Is there a bankruptcy, or debt restructuring on the horizon?

    How much did this Op-Ed cost the ratepayers?

    There’s at least 2 directives to the PR firm website, does anyone else need that many pointers?

    Will there be a special election to create this newly elected board, for a newly created agency?

  • Nan yabez

    Can you dissolve an agency that’s a third of a billion dollars in debt, and create a new agency from the ashes?

  • Nan yabez

    Does anyone know why Valencia water is no longer included in the discussion?

    Or what happens to the $300M of current debt that CLWA has?

    Is there a bankruptcy, or debt restructuring on the horizon?

    How much did this Op-Ed cost the ratepayers?

    There’s at least 2 directives to the PR firm website, does anyone else need that many pointers?

    Will there be a special election to create this newly elected board, for a newly created agency?

    Can you dissolve an agency that’s a third of a billion dollars in debt, and create a new agency from the ashes?

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor