Water officials who drafted legislation for a brand new all-encompassing water agency for the Santa Clarita Valley are on a rumor-busting mission this week to allay fears held by some Castaic residents that a takeover is coming and with it higher rates.
“We are the little fish being swallowed up by the whale,” Lloyd Carder II, president of the Castaic Area Town Council told The Signal Wednesday, summing up the fears and concerns of his constituents.
A week ago, he fired off a letter to board members of SCV’s water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, articulating the concerns of his constituents opposed to Senate Bill 634 which calls for the formation of one all-encompassing water agency for the SCV.
“There has been some talk of a takeover of (Los Angeles County Waterworks) District #36,” Carder said in his letter addressed to CLWA General Manager Matt Stone and the board.
“The water district has been under the privy of the Los Angeles since its inception,” he said. “With the pending joining of the CLWA and the Newhall County Water Districts we recognize that the evolution of a takeover would put one agency over all the water in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
Stone replied to Carder’s concerns immediately, telling Carder he wants to clarify “rumors” of a feared takeover and re-stating his commitment to appear at the next Castaic Area Town Council meeting on Apr. 19.
Joining the chorus to quell Castaic fears were Maria Gutzeit and Robert DiPrimio, presidents of boards that represent NCWD and the CLWA respectively, who issued a joint statement dispelling “recent speculation” the bill would result in a “takeover of LA County Waterworks District #36.
“This is not the case,” they said in their statement. “The new Santa Clarita Valley Water District proposed in SB 634 will continue to be Waterworks 36’s water wholesaler and cooperative regional partner.
“WW36 would continue as it is now, and provide retail service to its customers,” they said.
Here’s what concerns Castaic residents and ratepayers of Waterworks 36, said Carder: The residents want to know how they will be compensated – or reimbursed, he said – for a well they dug at their expense on the Los Valles property on Hasley Canyon Road.
As well, some members of Castaic Area Town Council are concerned how Castaic residents will be protected by impeding rate increases they say have followed “previous joinings,” Carder said.
Carder invited Stone to the town council meeting next week and Stone is expected to be there to answer questions.
Preferring not to wait until the meeting, Stone made a point of making sure Carder understood the anticipated role of Waterworks 36.
“If there is mutual interest to consider inclusion of the retail function of WW36 at a future date, it would be done through discussion and negotiation with the County, as owner and operator of Waterworks District #36, and if there is agreement on a joint proposal, consideration and deliberations through the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).
“A clarifying bill amendment we have submitted to Senator Scott Wilk would make that clear,” he said.
Stone said the legislation “doesn’t force anything on WW36.”
At least 5,200 people in Val Verde and parts of Castaic get their water from Los Angeles County Waterworks District #36.
They pay the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works directly for their water according to water use readings on 1,350 water meters.
Adam Ariki, spokesman for Waterworks 36, told The Signal Friday that the water district and Waterworks
District #37 in Acton will remain independent and not part of the proposed new agency.
“Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts Numbers 36 and 37 are independent Waterworks Districts and thus are not related in any way to Santa Clarita Water District,” he said.
The CLWA is a wholesaler that provides State Water Project water to the Santa Clarita Valley’s three main water retailers and a fourth water retailer, Waterworks #36. About half the water used in Santa Clarita Valley homes and businesses comes from CLWA. The rest is well water.
Main water retailers include: the NCWD, the Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt