Water remains elusive along Bouquet Creek

In this Feb 2014 photo, Charles Sturkey, director of operations, walks past the 300,000 gallon capacity water tank at Larc Ranch. Local fire companies draw water from the tank in the event of a fire. However, only one of two wells that feeds into the tank is at capacity due to the drought. Residents and staff have cut irrigation and water usage in order to preserve the remaining water. 02/12/2014
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While the drought is officially over, for some residents of the Santa Clarita Valley water remains as scarce as it was two years ago.

After years of having received a regular supply of water released from the Bouquet Reservoir, a group of Bouquet Canyon residents saw that supply reduced to a trickle 10 years ago over county concerns about road flooding.

Now residents along Bouquet Creek — having seen their neighbors down the road at LARC Ranch hammer out a permanent pipeline solution — are looking to local water officials for a similar solution.

“The 431 residents — approximately 2,000 people — are suffering from a lack of water,” Bouquet Canyon resident Roy Marson said in a letter delivered to The Signal.

“A water table of 5 feet in 1975 has now been lowered to 100 feet,” he wrote in the letter with a subject line that reads: “Please help. Bouquet Canyon groundwater now.”

A check with local water officials Wednesday revealed that an opportunity exists for residents to get a permanent water hookup.

“The proposed LARC pipeline can reasonably serve existing residents along the route of the proposed pipeline, i.e., between LARC and the tie-in point to the existing Santa Clarita Water Division system,” Keith Abercrombie, chief operating officer for the SCV Water agency, said Wednesday.

When water released from the Bouquet Reservoir was reduced to a trickle, the situation left LARC Ranch residents high and dry. The nonprofit LARC provides programs, services and residential facilities for developmentally disabled adults.

Rather than wait for a resolution to the impasse over reduced reservoir water, the organization took the steps needed to get a pipeline that would connect to the SCV Water Agency.

As the impasse over restoring the release of reservoir water enters another year, the idea of a permanent pipeline along Bouquet is enticing to the residents still impacted by the lack of reservoir water.

Physical connection

“Anyone wanting to connect would have to pay for the physical connection along with appropriate connection fees,” Abercrombie said.

“The line capacity could also reasonably serve some number of existing residents beyond LARC. However, the mainline would have to be extended and this would need to be funded by those seeking connection, again, along with appropriate connection fees,” he said.

“Additionally, the hydraulic grade — think of this as pressure the line provides — continues to drop as we go ‘up canyon’ beyond the LARC connection, so at some point we wouldn’t be able to provide water in any event.

“Also, while LARC is within our service area boundary, at some point north of there, we would cross that boundary and not be able to provide service,” he said. “The ultimate solution for these homeowners is to have the regulators and state and federal agencies work out the issues to enable releases from the Bouquet Reservoir to continue.”

Elusive solution

After more than five years of discussions with many affected government agencies — including talks three years ago in Washington, D.C. — a legislative solution to the reduced reservoir release has proven elusive.

“There is nothing new at all on that front,” Steve Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, said Wednesday.

“There is a study aspect that is active, but that’s it,” he said. “Hopefully, we will have something in a couple of months.”

Frasher noted: “A lot of different agencies have to come to the table on this.”

In May, the city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which controls the release of water from Bouquet Reservoir, began releasing a stronger trickle of water.

No significant flooding or reports of flooding-related traffic mishaps happened since the stronger release of water went into effect, Frasher said in May.

Pipeline completion

As for completion of the LARC pipeline, Abercrombie said Wednesday: “The plans and documentation have been submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board for review to determine eligibility for grant funding.

“This review is underway, and while we anticipate a response within a couple of months, we have no ability to drive or accelerate this process,” he said. “If we do get a favorable response and/or grant award, then our timeline would be that within 18 months of that time, we could have the pipeline installed.”

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