Assembly approves bill to help reduce size of SCV Water board

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency

SCV Water agency officials determined to whittle the size of their board down to nine — arriving at a goal of three elected members for each of its three new electoral divisions — are on their way to getting some help Wednesday with the Assembly’s approval of a bill authored by Sen. Scott Wilk.

Wilk, who authored the bill that actually created the water agency in the first place, announced Wednesday that the state Assembly approved Senate Bill 387, which serves as follow-up legislation to SB 634, which created the Santa Clarita Valley regional water district in 2017.

“This measure will save taxpayers money by streamlining how board vacancies are to be handled,” Wilk was quoted as saying in a news release.

 “SCV Water is off to a great start,” he said. 

“It has already saved ratepayers $5 million in its first year of operation and will be a role model for any new water agencies, which is why it is important to get this right,” he said. “I am grateful to my colleagues for their support.”

SCV Water merged the former Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District effective Jan. 1, 2018, with the stipulation it would reduce its board size from 15 members to nine.

The latest bill that now goes to the governor for final approval makes the whittling process easier in the event of a vacancy on the board.

A vacancy was created last month when Dante Acosta announced his resignation. Acosta was  appointed to represent Los Angeles County by 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. 

Seeing a chance to reduce the board by one more seat through attrition, the SCV Water agency board suggested the supervisor consider “retiring” the seat.

Barger, however, intends to keep the seat and has been interviewing candidates to replace Acosta.

Although Wilk’s latest bill has nothing to do with Acosta’s seat, it does provide a simpler process in dealing with future vacancies.

“SB 387 addresses technical issues regarding the consolidation of multiple boards of directors when there is a vacancy on the board,” Wilk said Wednesday.

“Rather than holding costly special elections, the board would have the authority to eliminate a vacant position at the agency, if the seat is already required to be consolidated,” he said.

Local water officials received the news Wednesday with optimism about achieving their goal of three elected representatives for each of the three electoral divisions.

“The biggest change is that the board may eliminate a vacant seat as long as three members remain in the electoral division,” SCV Water spokeswoman Kathie Martin said Wednesday, noting that the current law recognizes four members.

“This will allow a quicker transition to three members per division for a total of nine,” she said.

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