Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency
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It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency met Monday afternoon for special meeting, in part, to define which volunteers would serve as groundwater advisers.

Before they voted, however, contentious questions were raised about the recruiting process, which gave other board members pause to reconsider approving the advisory list, threatening to restart the whole selection process over.

In the end, Tara Bravo, spokeswoman for CV Strategies, who gave the board a presentation about the selection process, answered all questions about the process to the satisfaction of the board.

Members voted unanimously in favor of a “broader base” of groundwater advisers, approving the doubling of the number of advisers from seven to 14.

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.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, formed as California emerged from a multi-year drought, calls on all communities to manage the groundwater in their respective areas.

Each assembled groundwater sustainability agency has until January 2022 to come up with a plan to better manage groundwater.

The seven spots needed for the advisory committee are:

  • Someone to represent “small pumpers” or those who pump up to 2 acre-feet of groundwater or less per year.
  • A representative for “medium pumpers,” defined as those who pump between 2 and 25 acre-feet of water in a year.
  • A representative for “large pumpers,” or those who pump more than 25 acre-feet per year.
  • Someone from SCV’s business community; an environmentalist and two members of the public to represent members-at-large.

This committee would include a variety of interested parties and basic water users.

In the end, board members appointed two advisors to represent each stakeholder group. They Include:

  • Small pumpers: Dennis Ostrom, Roger Haring.
  • Medium pumpers: Roy Marson, and a second person still to be named.
  • Large pumpers: Matt Carpenter, Steve Sligh.
  • Business community: Holly Schroeder, Eric Adair.
  • Environmental: Stacy Fortner, Sandra Cattell.
  • Members at large: Dan Masnada, Kathye Armitage.

SCV Water Agency board member Lynne Plambeck, a former member of the Newhall County Water District and president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, or SCOPE, told the SCV GSA board that she objected to Masnada being on the advisory committee.

“I would like to express my concern about seating Dan Masnada as a public stakeholder,” she said. 

Masnada served as general manager of SCV Water’s predecessor agency — the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

“He’s not exactly a public representative on this,” Plambeck said. “He is not a good choice.”

Director Gary Martin disagreed.

“There are a number of applicants that may have bias,” he said. “But I think Dan Masnada is probably as well-informed and knowledgeable about groundwater conditions in this valley as anybody, and I think he would perform a valuable service to the advisory group.”

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