As we celebrate Labor Day this week, it gives our two water agencies great pride to unveil a new local jobs program that would benefit the Santa Clarita Valley.
The jobs initiative would place our local work force, and especially our veterans, at the front of the hiring line to help build upward of $200 million of recycled water projects planned for the region.
It would bring hundreds of new, well-paying construction jobs to our community. This plan marks another great opportunity of a proposal to create a new water agency for the region.
It was recently added to Senate Bill 634, state legislation authored create one Santa Clarita Valley-wide water district crafted by the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District in collaboration with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.
The legislation is awaiting final votes in the state Legislature and, if approved, will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature later this month.
Hiring local residents to build local infrastructure has many core benefits. These would be good jobs that are close to home. That means our local economy benefits by jobs and wages staying in our valley. It also means our neighbors can spend less time commuting and more time with their families.
Additionally, having our local men and women build the valley’s most significant water projects is a source of great community pride.
The jobs program also reflects a “helmets to hardhats” goal of careers for our local veterans. In recent years, California veterans have faced disproportionally higher unemployment rates than the general work force. In fact, a report from the California Employment Development Department found nearly 12,000 unemployed veterans in Los Angeles County alone.
Many of these men and women are highly skilled in construction. Their service to our nation should mean that they always have the opportunity for a good job.
While this program will not solve the entire problem, it is an effort to prioritize Santa Clarita Valley veterans and provide many of them the jobs they deserve.
Finally, the initiative focuses on the most significant water strategy in our region – recycled water expansion. Today recycled water represents a very small percentage of our total water supply portfolio. In the next 15 to 18 years, the new agency will work to increase this supply more than tenfold! We cannot help but swell with pride knowing that these vital projects will be built by our local community as part of the new agency.
This local jobs program was made possible through collaboration of author of the bill Sen. Scott Wilk, water leaders and the Trade Council. SB634, if it passes, will provide elected representation for all residents in the Santa Clarita Valley’s major water districts and enhance the ability to protect critical environmental ecosystems, most importantly the Upper Santa Clara River Watershed.
Today, it is profoundly gratifying to know it can also create hundreds of new jobs for our local men, women and veterans.
More information is available at www.YourSCVWater.com.
Maria Gutzeit is president of Newhall County Water District; Bob DiPrimio is president of the Castaic Lake Water District.