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Snubbed on water projects? Nope, it was planned

Agency didn’t receive any of the most recent state funding

Posted: July 23, 2008 12:33 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Local water officials watching their peers throughout the county gobble up $25 million in state funding earmarked for various water projects this week say they missed the latest funding boat on purpose.

Representatives of various agencies who have worked diligently these past two months to hammer out a comprehensive integrated water plan for Santa Clarita Valley chose to take their time crafting their funding pitch rather than meet the deadline.

Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, say the consortium of local interested parties will be good standing for the next round of funding.

"At the time, we started working on the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan we were looking at the schedule to see if we could meet the deadline," Masnada said. "The stakeholders, however, as a group decided not to rush the effort.

"We wanted to ensure that we completed a plan that was comprehensive and thorough that would include one and all worthy projects and programs."

Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources, is expected to present today a mock $25 million check to representatives of other Los Angeles County water agencies; one of whom was expected to be Dean Efstathiou, who sits on the local water agency board.

The $25 million in state funding is intended to help fund 14 water-related projects throughout Los Angeles County.

Snow, in his news release explaining the funding, said the money would "help satiate the region's thirst for vital water resources."

The projects sharing the funding package include:
n Morris Dam Water Supply Enhancement Project (Azusa)
n Whittier Narrows Water Reclamation Plant (El Monte)
n Large Landscape Water Conservation, Runoff Reduction and Educational Program (Central Basin Municipal Water District service area)
n Southeast Water Reliability Project (Central Basin Municipal Water District service area)
n Large Landscape Water Conservation, Runoff Reduction and Educational Program (West Basin Municipal Water District service area)
n Pacoima Wash Greenway/ Eighth Street Park (San Fernando)
n Las Virgenes Creek Restoration Project (Calabasas)
n Malibu Creek Watershed Water Conservation Project (Westlake Village)
n Joint Water Pollution Control Plan Masrshland Enhancement Project (Carson)
n North Atwater Creek Restoration and Water Quality Enhancement Project (North Atwater)
n Invasive Weed Control Project at the Whittier Narrows (three river locations in the San Gabriel River)
n South Los Angeles Wetlands Project (South Los Angeles)
n Solstice Creek Restoration Project (Malibu)
n Wilmington Drain Restoration Multiuse Project (Wilmington)

Earlier this month, local water agencies came together to forge a plan for better management of the Santa Clara River and to elicit state grant money to do the job.

Representatives who worked on the Upper Santa Clara River Integrated Regional Water Management Plan wanted to ensure it was crafted to the best of their ability before they pitched it to state officials for consideration.

"We will be eligible for the next round of funding," Masnada told The Signal on Tuesday.

In March 2007, the following agencies came together to draft a plan regarding their shared interests in the Santa Clara River Watershed: the Castaic Lake Water Agency, its retail arm the Santa Clarita Water Division, the Newhall County Water District, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of Los Angeles County, the city of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County Flood Control District and the Valencia Water Company.

Although the state budget is still being drafted, and the funds for such grants are not expected to be included in it, eventually the funds will become available and, when they do, the various Santa Clarita agencies that endorsed the plan will have their grant requests assessed.

When it comes to the Upper Santa Clara River, agencies that make up the Regional Water Management Group want the following objectives met:
n Reducing water demand by implementing technological, legislative and behavioral changes that would reduce demands for water
n Improving operational efficiency by making the water system operations more energy efficient
n Increasing the water supply by finding water supply sources
n Improving water quality by improving the quality of local groundwater
n Promoting resource "stewardship" by improving the health of the Santa Clara River ecosystem and improving flood management.


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