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Creating new water sources

Posted: October 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Water is scarce in the Santa Clarita Valley. We live in a desert, so our region must import half of all its supply from northern California, increasing costs and decreasing reliability.

So when opportunities to create new, sustainable sources of water emerge, we must be ready to act.

This is precisely the opportunity facing the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District as it considers a large-scale, valley-wide chloride management plan this Monday.

Among its alternatives, the Sanitation District can choose to invest in a comprehensive plan that has the ability to increase local supply reliability and benefit the regional economy.

The strategy, known as Alternative 2, sets the groundwork for a brand new source of water for the valley.

It recognizes we cannot afford to waste our precious local groundwater resources and gives this valley an opportunity to set in motion a plan to treat and reuse high-quality water.

It is a common sense strategy that is already working in other communities. In fact, a similar plan in Orange County has already produced more than 120 billion gallons of new water in just five years of operation.

However, the Sanitation District must also consider another approach — dubbed Alternative 4 — that calls for producing, then dumping precious local groundwater into the Santa Clara River.

Newhall County Water District believes this alternative is an incomplete plan that has two fatal flaws.

First, it “donates” scarce public water resources to our downstream neighbors in Ventura County.

Once this water discharged into the Santa Clara River, downstream communities will undoubtedly capture and reuse it without any benefit to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Additionally, this plan would require that valley residents pay for the construction of new groundwater wells in Ventura County. All this will cost more than $100 million and is a lost opportunity to protect our water future.

What’s more, the Sanitation District would be required to buy additional imported water to backfill the supply lost downstream.

In essence, our community would be paying to export its own water supply, then paying again to build wells in Ventura County that will not benefit our region.

Alternative 4 is not good for the residents and businesses of the Santa Clarita Valley.

It increases our dependency on more expensive imported water supplies while decreasing our water reliability. It also abandons millions of dollars’ worth of high-quality water resources systematically while compromising long-term reliability.

Conversely, Alternative 2 sets the groundwork for an ambitious plan that would provide greater economic certainty for our region with the added benefit of increased water supply reliability.

By selecting Alternative 2 and committing to using the highly treated water it provides, the community has the opportunity to avoid the need for more costly recycled water infrastructure in the future.

The Newhall County Water District supports Alternative 2 with the addition of reuse and urges the Sanitation District’s leaders to seize this opportunity to create a new and reliable source of water for the Santa Clarita Valley now — and for generations to come.

Stephen L. Cole is general manager for Newhall County Water District, which provides retail water service to Newhall and parts of Canyon Country, Saugus and Castaic.



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