The Feb. 27 article, “Sewer officials: Litigation costs have derailed plans,” cites $5 million in legal expenses the SCV Sanitation District (SCVSD) has incurred defending litigation by the so-called Affordable Clean Water Alliance (ACWA). Grace Robinson Hyde, the SCVSD general manager, stated “all of the legal…costs incurred to date, as well as those potentially incurred in (the) future, have been and will be borne by the ratepayers.”
Ever since ACWA first filed litigation against the SCVSD relating to its efforts to comply with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s mandate to reduce chlorides in its treated wastewater effluent, it has been unclear what ACWA’s true motives are. Its attorney, Robert Silverstein, criticizes the SCVSD about its “illegal plans” but he does not articulate what he would deem to be a legal remedy. Instead, Silverstein advocates “…the district needs to be dissolved and an overseer agency installed to actually help the Santa Clarita Valley.”
Apparently he feels the current SCVSD “overseer,” a board of directors consisting of two City Council members and a county supervisor, is insufficient.
Were it not for legal filings and occasional press releases from Silverstein, ACWA’s existence would be a complete mystery. ACWA has no website. It has no published organizational chart or list of officers. A few years ago, when Silverstein was asked by Councilwoman Laurene Weste who ACWA’s officers were, he refused to answer and accused her of McCarthyism!
If we as SCVSD ratepayers are bearing the SCVSD’s litigation costs – which undoubtedly include Silverstein’s fees – we deserve to know who is suing us. We also deserve to know why we are being sued and what the plaintiff believes is a workable alternative. All we know right now is that we are paying and ACWA, which could be no more than one individual, is causing us to pay.