As the holidays approach, the State Water Resources Control Board said there’s been no timeline yet identified for when the public notice might occur for a water permit application that could fundamentally change the future of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Cemex Inc. purchased major mining rights for a site just east of city limits more than 30 years ago — the two 10-year contracts would allow the Mexico-based international mining company to extract 56 million tons of aggregate from Soledad Canyon.
If approved, the mine would be the largest of its kind in North America, according to state legislators who helped fight the effort, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, and Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
A bill by the two, Assembly Bill 1631, was intended to force the State Water Board to publicly notice Cemex’s application to use water from the Santa Clara River, which it needs in order to operate a mine.
The bill would have mandated a public notice for any water-permit application more than 30 years old, which only applied to Cemex’s application, according to a legislative analysis of their bill.
In vetoing the bill, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the agency had already denied an appeal by Cemex that sought to have the decision to publicly notice the application reversed and announced it would be noticing the application.
Although as of Monday, there’s been no word on when that might be.
“Our staff said they have no new updates to report on Cemex,” according to an email from Ailene Voisin, an information officer for the State Water Board.
Previously, water officials have cited agency policy that prohibits any ex parte discussion of a pending application, which is what Cemex has.
“Hearings on water right permit applications generally occur as a final step in processing of an application,” according to an email attributed to Division of Water Rights staff. “The processing time for water right permit applications is highly variable depending on a number of factors. Since each water right permit application is unique, we cannot provide an average length of time for an approval process.”
The city is working on the situation while waiting for word from the State Water Board, according to Masis Hagobian, intergovernmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita.
“We’re already working on a protest,” he said in a phone interview Monday, “But we obviously can’t submit anything until the agency notices the timeline.”