It was just two weeks ago, when I was looking to start a discussion on what makes governmental organizations and private companies successful. Yet, I did not include how to measure success. If I were to base it on customer satisfaction, I would first measure an organization’s ability to supply enough of their product to satisfy their customers’ needs. Next, would come a section on how reliably they are providing their product. Lastly, would be a look at their price structure.
If you were to ask residents of Canyon Country, “How well is Edison doing?” — there would be no shortage of negative comments. Edison has failed to keep the power on, failed to provide enough power in the summer, all while raising prices, using tiered rates. Which they had previously promised not to do. Next, other utilities will follow that same example, and next in line is SCV Water.
When it comes to water availability in the Santa Clarita Valley, the issue is not new and has certainly been discussed “ad nauseam,” but we seem to look on it as a new subject every couple of years. All the players are experienced, and you would think they should understand the problem and must have taken proactive remedial action. The SCV Water team are supposed to be experts, they have monitored the valley’s water use for years, they know the differences in water use based on the season and should have accounted for our water needs. But instead, what they have done is continually add new users, stretching the supply over a larger base, and when they get in trouble, they want existing customers to fix the problem by suffering the consequences.
On Monday, Feb. 1, an article, “SCV Water hosts meeting on water-shortage plan,” was published in The Signal. It stated California has only received approximately half its average rainfall, and the SCV Water Agency hosted a virtual public meeting to inform residents of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan.
“According to data released Jan. 19, drought conditions have returned to California, with much of Los Angeles County in moderate drought conditions,” the article said. “With the agency’s nearly 275,000 users each consuming approximately 112 gallons of water each day, the Urban Water Management Plan is used to ensure there’s enough good, clean, reliable water, according to SCV Water officials.”
You know me, I love numbers, so I took out my calculator and multiplied 275,000 by 112 and the result came out as 30.8 million gallons of water a day. Now it may seem like a lot of water, but this is not my first rodeo. For almost 10 years the public listened to discussions of why we needed a UV salt reduction addition to our water treatment plants. We were informed the Sanitation District treated 20 million gallons a day that was used in homes and businesses, while agricultural and residential irrigation added twice that amount, giving us a grand total of 60 million gallons of water being consumed in the SCV every day.
Therefore, I am wondering how, after adding new development after development in our valley, water consumption was cut in half. Someone is not telling the truth or not telling the whole story.
Remember also, water shortages in lower California were created 20 years ago when pumping water south through the Sacramento Delta was halted to save the Delta smelt. Besides the inconvenience of Southern California having to exist with less water, farming in the mid-coast has been decimated, mid-coast aquifers have been pumped to the point the land is sinking, and without water being pumped into the Delta there has been seawater incursion, causing the need to truck salmon to their spawning grounds — providing an example of huge ecological damage done by the unintended consequences of good intentions.
Adding to the problem are inept government officials in Sacramento. The public was first told the problem would be resolved by a peripheral canal, and then later by tunnels under the delta, but as of today nothing has happened, except the excess northern water is being discharged into the ocean.
What can we do locally? SCV Water must start making better use of resources we have today, recycled water. Currently, the Bermite perchlorate treatment plant discharges its output into the riverbed. Why not use the water to irrigate medians on Soledad Canyon Road right across the street instead? Water is also pumped from under the Shangri-La neighborhood to stabilize the hill and is currently discharged into the sanitation system. Why not use the water to irrigate medians as well?
What about the output of our Sanitation District water treatment plants? Currently only a small portion is used to irrigate the Valencia golf course. If we were to use half the plant’s output for irrigation, we could solve the current problem, providing SCV Water did not give this new capacity to additional developments.
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., SCV Water will be holding a Zoom meeting taking public input on the Urban Water Management Plan. This will be your chance to make your voice heard. I urge you to log in and participate. (Information and workshop flyer: yourscvwater.com/uwmp/.)
On Jan. 22, Gary Martin, SCV Water board president, said. “The goal of the meeting is to gather input from the public… If there’s a drought or an emergency which leads to a water shortage, we might have to take action to reserve water and that action could impact the community.”
Translation: We will give you less water, and it will hurt you, more than it does us.
So, we need to speak up now, before it is too late.
Alan Ferdman is a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.