State officials notified of SCV intent to manage groundwater

Denny Orellana and his son Michael, 9, take a look at the rain-filled Santa Clara River during a walk in Canyon Country last January. Tom Cruze/for The Signal
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Those named to manage the first ever agency created to better manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley have informed state officials of their intent to manage local water more effectively.

Representatives of public agencies believed to have a stake in how groundwater is managed locally have been getting together to identify who would actually sit on the new state-mandated Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

Those invited to sit at the table of the first SCV groundwater management agency were expected to ask each of their respective agencies to adopt a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – formal agreement – in setting up and contributing to the emerging GSA.

Stakeholders had until the end of June to collect the MOUs for each stakeholder agency and submit them to state officials.

That has since been done, Newhall County Water District General Manager Steve Cole, the group’s unofficial head told The Signal Monday.

“The GSA is moving forward,” Cole said.

“All of the agencies have signed the MOU and the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency formation workgroup submitted the Notice of Intent with the California Department of Water Resources to form the SCV-GSA.

“Each agency is currently selecting their representative which will sit on the GSA Board and work will begin soon on developing a Joint Powers Authority to govern the process going forward,” he said.

The drought

Under the 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 state requires groundwater sustainability agencies be formed to manage each of its 127 underground basins by June 30. The agency, after it’s approved, will be responsible for developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan by 2022 that will achieve sustainability by 2042.

If the state’s recent multi-year drought taught local water officials anything it was the need to conserve water and to take greater care in managing it.

The local 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.

The parties

Mitch Glaser, assistant administrator for the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, was tapped to represent Los Angeles County in discussions over how best to manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“The Board of Supervisors’ adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding was an important first step in developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Santa Clarita Valley,” Glaser told The Signal on Monday.

Working inside a collaborative paradigm drafted by state officials seems the proper way to go for some of SCV’s new GSA.

“The County looks forward to ongoing collaboration with the city of Santa Clarita, Waterworks District 36, Newhall County Water District, and CLWA including the Santa Clarita Water Division,” Glaser said.

“Sustainable use and management of the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater is not only required by State law but is also consistent with the County and City’s ‘One Valley One Vision’ Plans and will benefit all stakeholders as the Santa Clarita Valley continues to grow and change.

“Unincorporated area residents and property owners will continue to be engaged as this effort moves forward,” Glaser said.

Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the CLWA, said SCV’s emerging new agency was unfolding according to state plans.

“As Steve (Cole) points out we have reached one of several milestones required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” Marks said.

“We look forward to working with the board members of the newly created SCV Groundwater Sustainability Agency as they address the many issues associated with forming a new entity and ultimately creating a groundwater sustainability plan for the SCV,” he said.


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