In a year when California has only received approximately half its average rainfall, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency hosted a virtual public meeting to inform residents of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan and gather community input Thursday.
The large amount of rain and snow that fell in recent days were the result of the state’s first major atmospheric river this winter, changing drought predictions, according to Thomas Chesnutt, a consultant from A&N Technical Services. However, according to data released Jan. 19, drought conditions have returned to California, with much of Los Angeles County in moderate drought conditions.
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.
The contingency plan is one piece of this overall plan, identifying actions needed to ensure water during a shortage and activating when the next shortage happens, according to Joan Isaacson, the meeting’s facilitator. It is discussed with the public and updated every five years.
“While we plan for long-term water reliability, we also recognize we live in California and shortages occur,” said Matt Dickens, the sustainability manager at SCV Water who is managing the contingency plan effort.
Water resources are monitored in real time, with indicators for a shortage including hydrologic conditions, imported water and groundwater supply, and availability of banking water (storing surplus supplies), among others, Chesnutt added.
Each of the plan’s six water-shortage stages is set to look at where water saving opportunities exist, while working with customers to promote more efficient water use, ultimately achieving conservation, Dickens said.
“SCV Water isn’t waiting around for a drought or water shortage to prepare. They have a full spectrum of water efficiency programs and services available today to help customers reduce their use,” said Maureen Erbeznik, a consultant from A&N Technical Services.
“It’s really their goal to create a water-efficient region that can successfully withstand future water shortages without customer hardship, but we know we’re not there yet, so we know that during droughts and other water shortages, we’re going to have to do more. … We’ll need to call upon additional actions to reduce or offset use,” she added.
The proposed strategy is to first augment supply, utilizing groundwater through water banking and transfers from other water agencies, to reduce customer hardships, while then balancing customer incentives, such as rebates for water-saving measures, with prohibitions and penalties for water waste, Erbeznik said.
This plan would then become part of a water shortage ordinance, which following approval by the SCV Water board of directors, provides the agency legal authorities to implement and enforce its shortage response actions.
The draft of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan is set to be available for public review and comment in March before a report is issued to the SCV Water board in April and the final plan is submitted to the California Department of Water Resources in July. To watch the meeting or for more information, visit yourscvwater.com/planning.