Groundwater managers secure $400,000 state grant

Castaic Lake levels - August 30, 2016. Dan Watson/Signal
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Water officials appointed to manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater are expected to receive a state grant for more than $400,000 to help cover the cost of that effort.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency were notified in April by officials with the California Department of Water Resources that a grant application filed by SCV Water’s predecessor was successful.
“This $416,000 will cover about 15 percent of the total estimated $2.7 million we will spend on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan through 2022,” Rick Viergutz, SCV Water’s principal water resources planner, said Wednesday.

“SCV Water is always on the lookout for grant funding for various projects, especially when implementing an unfunded state mandate such as the Groundwater Sustainability Plan,”  he said. “We hope to have opportunities to pick up additional grants like this one for the process, but also for implementation once projects are identified.”

The predecessor — the Castaic Lake Water Agency — applied for the Proposition 1 grant to cover a portion of the costs in setting up the GSA as mandated by the state.

In applying for it, which required a minimum contribution of half, the former agency identified GSA costs of $858,075.

In a memo to members of SCV Water’s Water Resources and Watershed Committee, Steve Cole, SCV Water assistant general manager, wrote: “The grant agreement will provide funding for key portions of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan development.”

The only action expected by state officials in handing over the grant money is for SCV Water to apply for the same grant money, identifying itself as CLWA’s successor.

The SCV GSA canceled each of its two meetings scheduled for this month, but plans to meet Oct. 1.

Under a state law passed three 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.

Despite the cancelled meetings, the local GSA group remains on schedule to meet objectives spelled out by state officials and fixed to benchmark deadlines.

The 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 Boulevard.

Last month, officials with SCV Water sharpened its profile as a GSA by creating a seven-member governing body that would report to the state on managing groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley.

By forming a joint powers authority for the SCV GSA, it allowed each of the member agencies — including representatives of the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County — to specify a particular member agency responsible for such tasks as contracting with consultants.

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