Roger A. Haring | We Depend on Canyons and Creeks

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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It should not come to anyone’s surprise for those who have long resided in the valleys and foothills of Southern California that we all share a very “limited amount” of water! For those who know this, and have lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for many years, you might be asking some important questions: How do we know when our water supply is depleted? When do the finite amounts of local water become exhausted? And, what can we do to help preserve and enhance the remaining water before it is gone?

Elizabeth Lake Canyon Creek, San Francisquito Canyon Creek, Haskell Canyon Creek, Bouquet Canyon Creek, Placerita Canyon Creek, Soledad Canyon Creek, Pico Canyon Creek, and many other canyon tributaries all serve to capture and store water in the SCV. Although political boundaries might define many of these canyons outside the city limits, their upper creek watersheds channel and send subterranean water into the valley’s underground aquifers on a yearly basis. And, while these creeks may seem dry for most of the year, during the winter and spring months one can actually see surface water running in them. But with an average range of rainfall somewhere between 3 to 18 inches per year, it can be difficult to witness firsthand.

Historically, the groundwater resources were preserved because development in the valley was limited. When major development occurred in the Santa Clarita Valley (1980s-2010), so did the increase of water use. With more water use, came more trees and landscapes, and slowly, a subtle change in the valley’s microclimate took place. The once dry, arid, dusty valley floor became an oasis of green, and with some humidity! Of course, the negative side of community development is it brings more pavement (heat-island effect), more traffic, and certainly more use of water! 

On the positive side, development provides us large landscapes and trees that can shade us on hot summer days, and a “sense of peace” when you stroll through Veterans’ Park in downtown Newhall listening the calming sound of the water fountain. We can also realize how fortunate we are when development provides us so many excellent parks, with abundant grass fields for all those to walk and play on. Indeed, the current availability of water in this valley is one of the greatest natural resources it possesses.

At least half of all our water is derived from the underground aquifers within the SCV. These aquifers have stored the runoff from the canyons, foothills and tributaries that surround this valley for centuries. But take caution, because as more and more of the surfaces on the valley floor are paved, the less water penetrates into the ground, and more is sent down-stream — and it is claimed that the downstream water is contaminated with chlorides. Hence, by protecting and securing the local canyon tributaries that surround the city of Santa Clarita, it is more probable that water quantity and quality is saved. Thus, it is in every citizen’s best interest to make “your corner” of this great valley a place that conserves and protects the precious resource of water, whether this means simply turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, ensuring the lawn sprinklers do not flood into the road, or stopping paints, oil, pesticides and fertilizers from being poured down the drain. We all have a part in protecting and preserving the water resources of this valley.

If you take a moment to appreciate the great landscapes found within the city of Santa Clarita, then perhaps, you might be inspired to take a hike into one of those precious canyons listed above that surround our valley. Observe their dry, native habitats and you will realize their purpose is much more than what meets the eye. Each of those canyons functions in capturing and storing every drop of rain that falls here, and if you are lucky to see them running one late winter or spring, you might come to the conclusion that water is life. Our lives depend on those canyons!

Roger A. Haring 

Bouquet Canyon Creek Restoration Project Coordinator

Saugus 

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