Water heads define state-mandated groundwater agency

Signal File photo. Castaic Lake in January 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Local water officials took one step closer Monday to defining the type of Groundwater Sustainability Agency state officials expect to see in place by June.

And, although the faces around the table of the newly-formed “working group” of the new agency are the familiar faces of those who manage SCV’s water distribution, they also included representatives of the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County.

But, small well owners want to be included as well.

The idea of Monday’s “work group meeting” was to discuss who would be on the new agency’s board and discuss who would advise them as members of advisory groups.

Working group members agreed by the end of the two-hour session, which was open to the public, that they would ask for representatives of their respective water agencies.

For example, The Newhall County Water District board would consider a recommendation to appoint a NCWD rep to the new groundwater agency.

Likewise, the Santa Clarita City Council – with the city represented at the discussion table Monday by Director of Public Works Robert Newman – would consider at some point a recommendation to do the same.

Under a state law passed two years ago, a law spurred by drought concerns and conservation, California communities – through their water agencies – are expected to come up with a community-based groundwater sustainability agency.
The groundwater in question involves the Santa Clara River Valley East Sub-Basin which stretches west from Agua Dulce to the Ventura County line and from the northern reaches of Castaic Lake to Calgrove.

Agencies likely to be represented under the umbrella of the new GSA board would include: the Castaic Lake Water Agency, NCWD, the Santa Clarita Water District, Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita.

A voice seldom heard at water meetings, however, was heard loud and clear Monday from small well owners concerned how the groundwater agency was going to monitor their water usage.

“If you want to maximize your return, concentrate on the vital few and forget about the trivial many,” small well owner Karl Reinecker told the working group, advising group members to pay attention to the big water pumpers.

“I don’t know how many water wells you have in the basin but our water rights are part of the trivial many,” he said, pointing out that such owners have been practicing “sustainability” and recycling for a long time.

“I own my water well and I am part of the trivial many,” Reinecker said.

Steve Cole, general manager of the NCWD, noted in response to Reinecker’s concerns that the newly-formed agency would look at all water “pumpers” from the small well owners, to big pumpers such as SCV’s three main water retailers.

NCWD board member Lynne Plambeck said: “There are a lot of small well owners in this valley, so to have someone represent them would be most advantageous.”

Plambeck also blasted organizers for holding a meeting open to the public in the middle of a work day.

“It’s not helpful to have these (public) meetings at two in the afternoon,” she said.

The next public meeting scheduled in the forming of the GSA is set to take place April 5.


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