View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Board entering Devil’s Den

Posted: November 7, 2008 7:56 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2008 4:30 a.m.
If the recent election wasn’t harrowing enough, local water officials will enter the Devil’s Den today.

Members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency are expected to make the 2-hour trek north of Santa Clarita Valley to parts of Kern County where they will tour water facilities that contribute to the local supply.

The field trip has a couple of local ratepayers concerned, however, that water officials, making the same hilly 140-mile ride together, in the same vehicle, will inevitably conduct agency business.

The agency is renting two Ford Expeditions for today’s day-long excursion. “If there are six of them on the bus then it’s a Brown Act violation,” said agency critic Joan Dunn.

Dunn has no way of making the trip on her own and fears there will be no room in either of the two rented vehicles leaving the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant on Bouquet Canyon Road today shortly after 7:30 a.m.
Agency president William Pecsi stressed in bold letters at the top of a memo this week to board members: “No business will be transacted and no action will be taken at this meeting.”

The Brown Act prohibits public agencies from holding business meetings in private. The Act defines a meeting as “any congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body at the same time and place to hear, discuss or deliberate upon any matter which is under the subject matter jurisdiction of the agency.”

This is what concerns Dunn. She, and her husband Ed Dunn, have attended many meetings of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, often videotaping the proceedings.

She considers agency members, shoulder-to-shoulder, on the same bus for two hours to be a meeting. “This is not a violation of the Brown Act,” said agency General Manager Dan Masnada. “In fact, we’re trying to be true to the Brown Act. This is simply a field trip.”

Technically, the ride to Devil’s Den — a name Masnada says is accurate, calling the area hot and flat with “lots of bees” — falls inside the recess portion of Saturday’s special meeting. “We’re calling the meeting to order at 7:30 a.m. and will open it up for public comment,” Masnada said.

Those taking part in the water safari are expected to do a lot of walking when they arrive and are urged to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. They’re expected to survey a wide area near Highway 33 and the Coastal Branch of the California Aqueduct.

About 20 years ago, the agency bought the rights to the state water allocated to Devil’s Den, a Kern County piece of farmland.

The hot flat terrain is dotted with a handful of oil wells and maintained by a single ranching family who lives on the property. The agency benefits in no way from the oil drilling operations on the property, Masnada said.

Santa Clarita Valley residents benefit from the Devil’s Den deal with 12,700 acre-feet of water annually delivered here from there, enough water to fill more than 55 million bath tubs.


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...