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Money well spent

Posted: April 3, 2008 5:37 p.m.
Updated: June 4, 2008 5:05 a.m.
To The Editor:

In The Signal's March 22 article, "$380K Spent On Advice," it was pointed out that the Castaic Lake Water Agency "paid more for consultants in January than any other single expenditure outside of water received through the State Water Contract."

The article listed several consultants CLWA has engaged but did not describe what services were provided. The services provided by CLWA consultants are not only very necessary to achieve CLWA's mission but also make good financial sense.

One of the consultants identified, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, which was paid $216,485 during January, was instrumental in providing engineering services that helped determine a remedy to the perchlorate contamination issue here in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Kennedy/Jenks' assistance led to a settlement agreement of nearly $100 million with the current and past owners of the former Whittaker-Bermite munitions site. The settlement agreement provides funding for a variety of projects needed for the treatment and restoration of the perchlorate-contaminated groundwater, including Kennedy/Jenks' costs identified in the article.

Kennedy/Jenks has also designed a perchlorate treatment plant, which is currently under construction and is also providing engineering design services for the expansion of CLWA's Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant.

The article also stated that Blois Construction Company was paid $193,500 "to convey untreated groundwater from two wells in Saugus to the perchlorate treatment plant." Blois Construction is not in the water conveyance or treatment business. It is a construction company and is under contract with CLWA to construct the pipelines that will convey water to the perchlorate treatment plant currently under construction on Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus.

An expenditure of $120,000 to Power Ford Valencia was incurred to lease property owned by Power Ford, which is needed for construction activities related to the perchlorate project identified above being constructed by Blois Construction.

And finally, the $108,690 expense paid to Southern California Edison was for more than just "keeping the lights on." Ninety-seven percent of the electrical costs were for water treatment and pumping costs to distribute water throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

Water agencies and municipalities throughout the United States use a variety of consultants to cost-effectively and efficiently address infrastructure needs. The more costly alternative would be to hire full-time engineers and others for very specialized work, which is only needed at certain times.

Instead, CLWA utilizes a balance of in-house technical staff and consultant support to both minimize costs and ensure timely implementation of our projects and programs.


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