SCV Water to work with Ventura water officials on watershed management

The Santa Clara River. Courtesy of Friends of Santa Clara River.
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Stewards of the Santa Clara River, both upstream and downstream, should get together to help plan the management of its watershed.

That’s what board members of SCV Water are being asked to consider at their next meeting.

On Wednesday night, members of the agency’s Water Resources and Watershed Committee agreed to recommend the board form a pact with downstream users of the water in Ventura County.

SCV Water, representing one of the upstream users of the Santa Clara River, and the United Water Conservation District — downstream in Ventura County — are contemplating an agreement called a memorandum of understanding, thereby agreeing to work together in managing the river’s watershed.

Such an agreement would put both agencies in better stead to receive funding through joint grant and loan applications, according to SCV Water agency staffers.

The SCV Water board is expected to vote on the proposal Tuesday.

Its counterpart in Ventura is expected to adopt the memorandum at its meeting next month.

The two water agencies have a history of managing the river together through similar agreements hammered out by the agency’s predecessor, the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

They signed agreements in the 1970s, for example, on how to manage stormwater flows impounded by state officials at the Castaic Lake reservoir.

They also signed a memorandum in August 2001, establishing a joint water supply and water quality monitoring and planning program for the upper and lower areas along the river.  And, also in 2001 during a critically dry year, they agreed to share the use of flood flows from the reservoir.

“Building on historic cooperation between our agencies, this MOU re-affirms our commitment to work together for the mutual benefit of our customers,” Steve Cole, SCV Water assistant general manager, said Wednesday just prior to the committee meeting.

“Watersheds are not contained by agency boundaries, so it’s important to partner with upstream and downstream neighbors to coordinate water management activities,” he said.

Dirk Marks, SCV Water’s director of water resources, wrote in a memo to the committee: “SCV Water, as the successor to these agreements, desires to build on this foundation.”

When upstream and downstream users of the river met recently, they realized they’ll be facing the same water management issues in light of what the state expects of them.

Both SCV Water and the United Water Conservation District are mandated by the governor to come with up with a groundwater sustainability agency that would manage the groundwater in each of their respective underground basins.

At some point, both agencies would be expected to come up with their own “basin coordination” agreements.

Working together would prove more cost-effective, Marks said in his memo.

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