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No worries: We've got 2 years of stored water

• If Big One hits, SCV will be fine while most of SoCal goes thirsty

Posted: June 13, 2008 1:09 a.m.
Updated: August 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.

If the Big One happens today and an earthquake destroys our water supply from the San Joacquin Delta, Santa Clarita Valley residents can get by on stored water for two years, the valley's top water official told a group of local business people Thursday.

Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, told about 130 luncheon guests of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant that local water supplies are enough to get us through a devastating earthquake at the heart of our key water source.

Masnada framed his presentation in the context of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's declaration last week of statewide drought.

At the podium, while guests were finishing up their saucer-sized peach tarts and apple tarts, he used his laser pointer to draw their attention to an overhead slide titled "Infrastructure at Risk" and a subsection titled "Earthquakes."

"This is our Katrina in waiting," he said. "This would result in significant failures."

Masnada told luncheon guests, who included Mayor Bob Kellar and lobbyist Scott Wilk - about his participation last week in a three-day tour of the Bay Delta area, during which he learned how a major Northern California quake would impact Southern

"We may not feel the tremors down here but we'd feel the economic impact. ... There would be a number of levee
failures, salt water would flow back into the Delta, and the State Water Project would have to be shut down; otherwise we'd be pumping salt water (into homes).

"This would last about two to three years and cause major impacts from an economic standpoint," he said. "The consequences of a quake along the Richmond Fault, in the fall, would result in about $55 billion damage."

"We wouldn't be able to put water into reservoirs."

Masnada, however, was careful in his presentation to allay the fears of local businessmen and businesswomen by balancing pessimistic predictions of a major quake in the next 25 years with graphic illustrations of how the water agency prudently gathers water from a diverse number of sources.

"If there was an outage (of State Water Project water), with the water stored in Kern County we could make it through two years, taking water (out) of storage," Masnada said.

Moving from bad news to worse, Masnada touched on the impacts of global warming and the consequence of California's melting snowcaps.

One of the key points in the governor's executive order, in declaring a statewide drought, was pointing out the dire consequences of dwindling snowcaps.

Specifically, executive order S-06-08 reads: "Climate change will increasingly impact California's hydrology and is expected to reduce snowpack, alter the timing of runoff and increase the intensity and frequency of droughts in the western United States."

Masnada added: "From a water supply standpoint, it has huge implications. ... If things are bad right now, they're going to be worse with climate change.

"There's a statewide crisis and it needs to be addressed, the sooner the better," Masnada said in closing.

As luncheon guests were getting out their raffle tickets to claim potted-plant table centerpieces (each one a drought-resistant species), Masnada closed on a positive note, encouraging people to use water wisely.


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