4 public workshops slated for groundwater discussion

FILE ART. A swimmer looks out over a serene Paradise Cove at Castaic Lake's Lower Lagoon. The lake is part of the State Water Project that transports Northern California water to Southern California. August 14, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Four public workshops are being scheduled for anyone wanting to weigh in on the plan to manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley.

On Monday, members of the SCV Water Agency’s Water Resources and Watershed Committee were briefed on the status of work done to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

A significant part of that work mandated by the state is soliciting public input.

Since January, the SCV Groundwater Sustainability Agency has issued contracts to various consultants for work needed in hammering out a plan but the plan requires public input.

“Groundwater sustainability plan development is underway,” Rick Viergutz, SCV Water’s principal water resources planner, told committee members Monday.

“The current focus right now is to develop a work plan,” he said. “We’ll be having four public workshops and for those workshops GSI (Groundwater Solutions Inc.) will be preparing a draft technical report and coordinating strategies in advance of the workshops.”

Under a state law passed in 2015, 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.

Since then the local GSA group has remained on schedule meeting objectives spelled out by state officials and fixed to benchmark deadlines.

The next benchmark calls for a draft groundwater management plan. Efforts to hammer out a draft of the work plan are about 75% done, Viergutz said.

The draft work plan describes the high level of coordination with consultant teams. Those coordinating efforts begin in earnest Thursday when the GSA work group meets with consultants at the 2019 consultant kick-off meeting.

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.

Committee members were also briefed on Proposition 1 grant money coming their way.

A year ago, members of the SCV GSA were notified by officials with the California Department of Water Resources that a grant application for more than $400,000 filed by SCV Water’s predecessor, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, was successful.

“This $416,000 will cover about 15% of the total estimated $2.7 million we will spend on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan through 2022,” Viergutz said at the time.

The SCV GSA board meets next month.

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