When I read Alan Ferdman’s commentary entitled “Drought Potential? Here We Go Again” (Feb. 12), I was reminded that no good deed goes unpunished.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is preparing its five-year update of the SCV Urban Water Management Plan and “Always Advocating” Alan chooses to criticize the agency simply because it is complying with state law in preparing an accompanying Water Shortage Contingency Plan. He makes a number of gross assumptions and incorrect assertions, which, had he read the current version of the UWMP, would have resulted in a much different narrative or, more than likely, rendered the necessity of his commentary moot.
Ferdman’s biggest fiction is proclaiming that the agency is willy-nilly adding new users by “stretching the supply over a larger base” and wanting “existing customers to fix the problem by suffering the consequences.” Had Ferdman read the UWMP, he would understand the valley has enough water, not just presently, but through buildout as projected in the city and county One Valley One Vision general plans.
The agency’s water supply portfolio consists of two sources of groundwater, two imported water sources and recycled water. As new development occurs, the agency’s water infrastructure is concurrently expanded to meet additional water demand. The agency’s long-term capital budget – another document available to the public that Ferdman should have read – includes all the future projects required to fully develop and deliver the agency’s water supplies, including the recycled water he erroneously implies the agency is ignoring.
Again, the water is already here. Funding for additional facilities to meet the increased water demands of new development comes from developers and property owners responsible for the new development. The agency has had a long-term capital program for many years and continues to refine it as needed to ensure facilities are not only built but also built when needed – and, just as important, equitably funded.
Ferdman really misses the mark with his comments about the Agency’s WSCP. The WSCP is a new state requirement for a standalone document to address hypothetical short-term and intermittent shortages of 10%, 20%, etc. (two examples of such shortages are dry years and temporary facility outages due to earthquakes). He raises a number of issues such as reduced State Water Project deliveries due to endangered fish, lack of new SWP conveyance facilities and even “inept” state officials, all which have no relevance to the WSCP. The UWMP already accounts for the water supply impacts of the first two issues; as for the third issue, that’s strictly his opinion.
Probably by accident but to the detriment of reader comprehension, Ferdman convolutes the difference between long-term water supply and short-term supply disruptions. He concludes by stating more recycled water is needed now to meet short-term intermittent water shortages. Unfortunately, this approach would be far more expensive than conducting public outreach and developing conservation programs that are typically used by water agencies to reduce demand during such shortages. His suggestion is the equivalent of widening a freeway to eliminate heavy traffic during the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend – which is certainly desirable but requires significant capital and increased maintenance expense for additional lanes that would be unused the rest of the year. In short, he is advocating an approach that would have to be funded by existing customers but would ultimately benefit future customers – basically the same accusation he incorrectly makes of the agency!
Ferdman concludes his commentary by stating, “We [the agency] will give you less water, and it will hurt you, more than it does us.” Why would he think the agency would operate any differently now or in the future than it historically has? Has there ever been a time when he turned on the tap and water didn’t come out? Has there ever been a time when his monthly water bill wasn’t one of his least expensive living expenses? Indeed, has there ever been a time when he acknowledged the agency’s contribution to the valley’s quality of life and environmental health?
Hopefully Ferdman will take his own advice and virtually attend the agency’s Feb. 17 UWMP Zoom meeting. He might just learn the difference between the contents and objectives of the UWMP and the WSCP. He might even ask a few questions and get answers from qualified experts that clear up his self-induced confusion regarding valley water management.
And maybe – maybe – he might start truly advocating rather than criticizing the agency’s efforts to not just comply with the law but to continue meeting the valley’s water needs cost effectively and efficiently.
Dan Masnada is the retired former general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, one of two predecessor agencies of the SCV Water Agency.