Water officials have voted to back Senator Scott Wilk’s steadfast resolve to reduce the board size of one new all-encompassing Santa Clarita Valley water agency from 15 members to nine by 2023.
Members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency voted Wednesday night to get behind two key changes Wilk wants made to Senate Bill 634, a measure which will establish the new water district.
The vote was to support Wilk’s desired changes in concept, with details to be ironed out later.
Agency General Manager Matt Stone told board members Wednesday that Wilk remains adamant about firming up language in the bill that pertains to the size of the new agency’s governing board.
Not getting behind the legislated promise of a nine-member board would be a deal-breaker, he said.
“We need to make a decision tonight,” Stone told the board. “He (Wilk) said he won’t carry the bill unless we do.”
Joseph Byrne, general counsel lawyer for the CLWA, reminded board members that Wilk is the author of the legislative bill.
“It is in the control of Senator Wilk,” he said. “Our position is to support the bill or not.”
Stone repeatedly stressed Wilk’s resolve in seeing a totally-elected nine-member board by 2023.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat it for you,” Stone told board members. “He had a number of issues of concern and, on these two issues he was quite adamant.”
Late last year the boards of the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District voted to support legislation that would dissolve the two agencies and create a new valley-wide water agency.
On Feb. 17, Wilk introduced legislation to create such an agency to manage and distribute water throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
Wilk’s other prime concern – as conveyed to the board by Stone Wednesday – was about the seat currently held by Dean D. Efstathiou. He was appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to represent SCV’s fourth and smallest water retailer, the Los Angeles County Waterworks District #36.
It’s the senator’s wish to see a provision in the bill that would phase out the county’s appointed seat when the board is reduced to nine, ensuring that all nine seats were elected positions.
The three main water retailers servicing the Santa Clarita Valley are the Newhall County Water District, Valencia Water Company and the Santa Clarita Water Division.
Senate Bill 634 calls for three water districts under the new agency’s umbrella, each represented by three elected board members.
The bill’s wording as to the downsizing of board members from 15 to 12 was specific, but left any further whittling of the board open-ended.
On the day before he introduced the bill in Sacramento, Wilk told The Signal he wants the process of reducing its board size spelled out clearly, specifically, and “date specific” which in this case means in place by 2023.
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