For Santa Clarita Valley water users, the transition of the water delivery system in place for more than half a century to a new system defined in a bill signed into law by the Governor Sunday should be a smooth one, water officials say.
On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 634 into law, creating one new all-encompassing water agency for the Santa Clarita Valley.
The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
For most SCV water users, the change is likely to go unnoticed with the same quality of water coming out of consumers’ taps.
For water consumers, the changes in store are largely bureaucratic with different names expected to be stenciled on the doors of existing offices.
Under the existing structure, the Castaic Lake Water Agency – the region’s water wholesaler – sells water to three main water retailers: the Valencia Water Company, the Santa Clarita Water District and the Newhall County Water District.
The NCWD was the only retailer CLWA did not own.
Under the new structure, three evenly sized electoral divisions will provide equal voting rights and representation to all corners of the Santa Clarita Valley for the first time in the region’s history, according to local water officials.
Santa Clarita Valley residents are being invited to participate in the transition, beginning with a public meeting slated for next week.
Leaders from CLWA and NCWD are expected to hold public meetings in an effort to “develop an operational framework and policies,” water officials said Sunday.
“The Boards will have a series of joint public meetings over the next few months to prepare for the transition,” Steve Cole, NCWD general manager of the NCWD.
“The first of these will be on October 24 at NCWD,” he said.
Next week’s meeting, on Tuesday, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the NCWD offices on Pine Street.
The public is invited to attend a follow-up meeting set to take place at the Rio Vista Bravo Water Treatment Plant overlooking Central Park on Bouquet Canyon Road on Nov. 13.
A third meeting is in the works for Dec. 4 at a location still be determined
“As the legislative process of forming the new agency comes to a close, the work of building it has just begun,” Maria Gutzeit, president of the NCWD board said in a written statement issued Sunday.
“This will be an ongoing and methodical process that will engage the public as much as possible,” she said.
The old way
The CLWA, operator of the retail Santa Clarita Water Division, has an 11-member board – six directors elected by division, three elected at large and two appointed. Terms for the elected directors are four years.
The NCWD has a five-member board elected at-large. It has one appointed director who serves on the CLWA board.
Altogether, there are a total of 15 elected or appointed water officials in the region.
The new way
By 2022, the new district Board will be entirely elected – with nine elected directors.
Instead of at-large or appointed seats, each director must live in one of three electoral divisions and will be directly elected by the people within that electoral division.
In compliance with the California Voting Rights Act, the new structure allows neighbors to elect neighbors to govern water resources.
Altogether, there will be nine elected members.
SCV water history
On Apr. 30, 1963, the CLWA – then known as the Upper Santa Clara River Valley Water Agency – signed an agreement with the state to receive 41,500 acre-feet of water each year from Northern California as part of the State Water Project.
That amount of water is at about 41,500 football fields under one foot of water.
Just over a half century since the agreement was hammered out, the CLWA is now contracted with the state to receive more than double the original allotment, or about 95,200 acre-feet of water each year.
Under the new plan, the new district will assume responsibility for importing water.
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