UPDATE: Governor signs bill creating new water agency



The way water is acquired and distributed throughout the Santa Clarita Valley changed forever Sunday when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill creating one new all-encompassing water district for the SCV.

The governor signed Senate Bill 634, according to Governor staffers who updated his official website. The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is now the agency which distributes water in the SCV.

Gone is the water system that has remained in place for the last half century.

Gone is the Castaic Lake Water Agency – SCV’s water wholesaler which delivers Northern California water to the SCV via the State Water Project – and gone is the system of selling water to three main water retailers: the Newhall County Water District, the Santa Clarita Water Division and the Valencia Water Company.

“We are all very excited to getting started on realizing this great opportunity for the people of the Santa Clarita Valley,” Steve Cole, NCWD general manager, told The Signal Monday.

The new water structure is scheduled to be implemented at the start of next year.

Despite news last month that the California Democratic Party came out against the historic bill, the governor signed it and made it official.

On Sept. 1, the water bill cleared its biggest hurdle when it passed through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Two weeks later, Senate bill 634 passed the Senate Floor.

With the Governor’s signature Sunday, the bill becomes law and the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District dissolve into the new agency.

For more than a year, officials with the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District – SCV’s water wholesaler and one of its four local water retailers, respectively – have been hammering out details of a merger, eliciting input from the public at four public meetings.

In December, both the CLWA and NCWD signed a settlement agreement calling for legislation to be drafted and submitted.

News of the bill’s signing was well received by water officials who have worked diligently for more than two years to see the merger through.

“This is a historic day for the Santa Clarita Valley,” Maria Gutzeit, NCWD board president, said in a written statement released Sunday.

“We have worked tirelessly with Senator (Scott) Wilk, our customers, environmental organizations, local government and businesses over the last two years to create something special for our community,” she said.

“We are grateful that the Governor saw the wisdom in creating a new, modern era of water management in the Valley.”

“SCV Water will unify a fragmented system of small water providers into a modern and collaborative model,” Gutzeit said.

“It was created as part of a nearly two-year public engagement process that included stakeholders from across the region.

Bob DiPrimio, CLWA board president, said in the same written statement: “The creation of SCV Water is a testament to the extraordinary achievements we can accomplish when we work together.

“SCV Water puts us firmly on the path of unified water management,” he said. “This is a proud moment for our region.”

Representatives of both agencies – now part of the same agency – claim the new structure will save $14 million in its first 10 years, improve water reliability, create a recycled water supply, improve the management of groundwater and protect the environment which includes the Santa Clara River watershed.

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