SCV Water proposes return to in-person board meetings

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The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board of directors is scheduled Tuesday to discuss returning to in-person meetings starting on Aug. 3. 

Board President Gary Martin, in a report dated July 1 to fellow directors, proposed resuming in-person board meetings. 

“All meetings would be conducted in accordance with board policies, procedures and legal requirements in place prior to Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home orders issued in early 2020,” Martin wrote. 

SCV Water will no longer provide remote attendance for the public, while board members attend remotely with prior approval from the board president or the full board, according to rules outlined in the report. 

Board meetings will be held at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant, located above Central Park, in the board room. Rules also require that unvaccinated individuals wear a mask at meetings, per the California Public Health Department.  

PFAS Financing 

The board will deliberate Tuesday on how to tackle more than $100 million of potential capital costs for removing PFAS from local groundwater. 

PFAS chemicals are manmade and can cause adverse health effects, according to the water agency. 

A staff report on the question provided primary and alternative recommendations that would allow SCV Water to exceed an approximately $11 million cap on issuing debt set by state legislation, which created the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in 2018. 

“SB 634 also provides that this limitation can be waived or exceeded by a four-fifths majority vote of the board,” according to the report. 

That waiver forms the basis of the primary recommendation, which will ask the board Tuesday to “dispense with the four-fifths majority vote for retail debt,” finding that approach “the most efficient outcome for financial planning.” 

The report continued that the primary recommendation “gives certainty that if the (Finance & Administration) Committee recommends a financing plan for capital work that includes an amount of debt greater than the current retail debt threshold, it will not take a four-fifths majority vote to approve, only a majority vote, similar to all other bond issues by the agency.” 

The board needs a four-fifths majority vote to approve the primary recommendation. 

A secondary recommendation would allow the board to authorize up to $40 million of debt issuance to address PFAS capital costs, which the report noted amount to $47.8 million in SCV Water’s five-year capital plan. 

“Since bond proceeds can be spent over a three-year period, the committee selected this amount to ensure that at least $7.8 million would have to come from other sources such as grants, cash reserves, or pay-go capital,” according to the agency’s report. 

The report stated the lower debt limit provides authority for the board in the short term, but would also create uncertainty for financing PFAS removal projects as well as costs involved with going through the debt issuance process multiple times.  

New generator at filtration plant  

Directors will discuss purchasing a $275,000 generator using the $249,854 grant SCV Water received from the California Office of Emergency Services as part of its Community Power Resiliency program in March. 

The remaining $25,000 will come from the agency’s capital improvement program budget, according to an SCV Water presentation about the purchase. 

If purchased, the generator would be the second one available at Earl Schmidt Filtration Plant to provide backup power in the event of a public safety power shutoff (PSPS), which impact water service provided by the agency in 2019. 

The current propane fuel generator provides enough power to provide 30 million gallons per day, just over half of the plant’s capacity of 55 million gallons per day, according to a staff report. 

The report found that adding a new generator would allow the plant to operate at full capacity in the event of a PSPS event. The new generator – powered by propane and natural gas – will join a fleet of 20 owned by the water agency. 

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