As the senate bill promising to create one new all-encompassing water agency for the SCV moves steadily along a historic path, a separate new agency assembled this year to manage SCV groundwater remains on the fast track to making local history.
In less than a week, state officials are expected to officially recognize the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency as the exclusive group mandated to manage local groundwater.
“This agency is vital to the Santa Clarita Valley because everyone will benefit from effective groundwater management and monitoring,” Mitch Glaser, assistant administrator for the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning told The Signal Wednesday.
In June, those named to manage the first ever agency created to better manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley informed state officials of their intent to do just that.
Glaser was tapped to represent L.A. County in discussions over how best to manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley. He is one of six agencies represented on the SCV-GSA.
“The parties involved, including the County, City, and water purveyors, have different roles, responsibilities, and jurisdictions, but each recognizes that sustainable groundwater supplies are essential for the continued growth and vitality of the Santa Clarita Valley,” Glaser said.
First order of business for the new agency, according to Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency – apply for state grant money.
On Tuesday, Marks updated members of the CLWA’s Water Resources Committee on the status of implementing SCV’s new groundwater agency.
He recommended Tuesday that once the local groundwater agency is approved by the state, it should adopt a resolution to fire off an immediate application for grant money available under Proposition 1.
“While the local water users have cooperated to avoid long-term overdraft of Santa Clarita’s groundwater resources, we will be required to prepare a GSP (Groundwater Sustainability Plan) and the specific requirements are extensive and expensive,” Marks told The Signal Wednesday.
Proposition 1 – a water bond – was a ballot measure approved by the people of California in November 2014. It sets aside $7.12 billion for improving the condition of water supply projects, including projects aimed at improving groundwater storage and protecting the watershed.
Next week, officials with the Department of Water Resources are expected to issue vouchers to groundwater management groups like the SCV-GSA entitling them to grant money under Prop 1.
The vouchers – called draft proposal solicitation packages – make about $86.3 million available to groundwater sustainability agencies like the SCV-GSA.
Staffers at the CLWA have already begun hammering out their grant application, Marks said.
“While we do not yet have a specific estimate, we think the cost will be well in excess of $500,000,” he said. “Thus we are investigating preparation of a Proposition 1 grant application.”
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.
In June, state officials with the Department of Water Resources reviewed the new agency, approved it and put the public on notice that the SCV-GSA would be the exclusive group to monitor groundwater, kick-starting a 90-day public review period.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, that review period ends and the SCV-GSA goes into operation.
“This effort builds on the collaboration that developed during the ‘One Valley One Vision’ process and the agency will make sure that all stakeholders continue to be involved as the Groundwater Sustainability Plan is developed in the coming years,” Glaser said.
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