Local groundwater managers on target to meet state benchmarks

Signal file photo

Water officials appointed to manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater were given an update Monday on how those efforts are progressing and, in a word, they’re progressing just fine.

Members of the SCV Groundwater Sustainability Agency met at the Rio Vista Treatment Plant Facility for a three-month look ahead and were told they are on track.

Topping the list of housekeeping items was an update on receiving more than $400,000 in state grants that would cover the cost of stepped-up efforts in managing groundwater more effectively.

“The update on our Proposition 1 grant is that we’ve had our kickoff meeting with the Department of Water Resources as is customary with grant agreements,” Rick Viergutz, SCV Water’s principal water resources planner, told the board.

“Overall, very positive,” he said, noting “no big surprises.”

There will likely be a special board meeting called in June to adopt a budget, Viergutz said.

In terms of the GSA hiring consultants for specific jobs pertaining to groundwater management, the local board has most of that job completed.

“Two of three contracts are executed,” Viergutz told the board Monday. “We anticipate executing a contract with GSI this week. There were some delays in getting the GSI contract executed but we pushed through those.”

“There were just a number of detailed questions that we wanted to make sure we’re all clear on, and that’s been handled now,” he said.

SCV GSA members expect to have a team meeting with the consultants soon.

“We’ll hammer out the overall work plan and complete the groundwater sustainability plan,” Viergutz said.

The plan to better manage SCV groundwater is what the SCV GSA is all about. Under a state law passed three years ago, spurred by drought concerns and conservation, California communities — through their water agencies — are expected to come up with a community-based groundwater sustainability agency.

The community-based agency was then expected to come up with a plan to best manage its own groundwater resources.

Despite a couple of canceled meetings last fall, 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.

In August, 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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