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New war on water bubbling locally?

• Does ‘hydra' logo portend agency's plans?

Posted: May 16, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The hydra, according to Greek mythology, is an ancient serpent-like water beast with many heads that guarded the entrance to the Underworld.

So why does it appear on a sketch of the Castaic Lake Water Agency's strategic plan next to comments about water retailers?

Joan Dunn, a former member of the Newhall County Water District, is livid about the agency's "strategic plan" vision and thinks she has the answer to the hydra reference.

It took legendary hero, Hercules, to kill the monster hydra.

Dunn suspects the agency sees itself as a hero intending to kill the water agencies.

An agency spokesman, however, says the sketch represents the myriad of challenges that beset the agency, not retailers.

Regardless, Dunn said she's prepared to go door-to-door to warn people about what she sees as the real threat - the agency's new vision that would lump all retailers together and create one retailer.

"I have campaigned door to door, and I'm prepared to walk to every house in my water company's area to let them know that this is a bad plan." Dunn said. "I see this as just a power grab."

The agency toyed with the idea of creating "One Valley, One Water Company" when it met April 25 and 26 in a brainstorming session dubbed the Board Strategic Planning Workshop.

Board members met in the back room of a micro-brewery, Wolf Creek, on McBean Parkway at Decoro Drive, or as one agency board member likes to refer to it "the boardroom of a local restaurant."

Daniel Iacofano, of the consulting firm MIG & Co, provided a sketch outlining the brainstorming session - and of the three-headed hydra circled in red next to notes that read: "Policy - Wholesale should not subsidize retail."

Iacofano also drew a clock-like sketch of the agency, with the CLWA acronym surrounded by agency accomplishments - "energy efficiency, diverse water portfolio, maximum use of conservation" - all under the banner in red writing "One Valley, One Water Company."

"This is not the final plan, it represents our brainstorming," said Valerie Pryor, the agency's Administrative Services Manager who had attended the two-day session. "And besides, Hercules did not slay the monster alone, he had a lot of help."

The Castaic Lake Water Agency sells water wholesale to four local retailers: the Newhall County Water District, the commercial Valencia Water Co., the Los Angeles County Waterworks division #36 and the agency's own water retailer, the Santa Clarita Water Co.

"We have one valley. We have one city. Why doesn't it seem logical to have one retailer?" agency General Manager Dan Masnada told The Signal two days after the brainstorming weekend.

"That was just one of the many things that were discussed," he added. "For that to happen, it would require discussions at the policy level with one board talking to another board."

At Wednesday's general meeting of agency board members, a handout was provided detailing some of the salient points of April's two-day brainstorming session.

When Dunn - who has attended almost all of the agency meetings the last few years - received a copy of the "One Valley, One Water Company" handout, she got angry.

"I've followed these folks for a long time," she told The Signal Thursday. "After a while, you get to know what they're thinking. What they want to do is create a monopoly.

"We warned the community about this in 1990," she said. "We (the community) don't want a monopoly. The reason is because all monopolies are bad.

"With monopolies, you don't have choices ... if you have one body controlling all of it."

Dunn promised to address members of the Newhall County Water District Thursday night when its members were expected to meet.

"I'm going to tell them exactly what I think of their (agency's) vision of ‘one valley, one water company,'" Dunn said. "Who knows what will happen if this goes through.

"People will only take interest when they see higher water bills and when water conservation is demanded."


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