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Is bigger really better for area water agency?

Posted: November 8, 2008 8:37 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2008 4:30 a.m.
In response to the Oct. 20 story “One valley, one water supplier,” we ask: Is bigger really better?

Take a look at:
n Los Angeles County. Is it better, more efficient?
n The Metropolitan Water District is an unwieldy water wholesaler.
n The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Is it better? It has been overcharging its government customers for years. A $160 million settlement for the overcharging has just been agreed upon.
n The Los Angeles Unified School District is the country’s largest school district— and one of the worst.
n Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Enron and AIG.

We all know about all of the above.

For Castaic Lake Water Agency to be the only Santa Clarita Valley water supplier, it will need to acquire the remaining retail water suppliers.

Legal violation?
When Castaic Lake Water Agency was formed, the retailers and residents insisted, and CLWA agreed, that it would be a state supplemental water wholesaler only. This fact was stated in CLWA’s formation act (law).
The agency violated its own law when it purchased Santa Clarita Water Company illegally.

Will any future purchases follow CLWA’s aggressive plan that was used to purchase Santa Clarita Water?
After purchasing the Santa Clarita Water Company, CLWA requires the customers to now pay dearly for their water company a second time.

The public needs to understand that when a home is purchased in the Santa Clarita Valley, the buyer pays full price for the water facilities of his or her retail water supplier.

The fees paid by the developer are for the full price of the water system and are included in the price of each home.

CLWA purchased Santa Clarita Water for three  times its value due to an arrangement apparently made between CLWA and the owners of Santa Clarita Water.

Now CLWA is requiring all customers of its water retailer to pay in full, the $63 million plus interest, for the water company.

Is this fair? Now Santa Clarita Water has difficulty maintaining or upgrading its facilities due to inadequate funds.

For several years CLWA has drawn $3.5 million per year from Santa Clarita Water restricting its operating capital. This will happen again if CLWA continues to purchase retail suppliers in this valley.

If CLWA purchases all the retail water companies, this creates a monopoly. The only oversight that CLWA has is the voters and the legislators in Sacramento.

Historically, neither has been watching them; thus huge expenditures of taxpayer funds are being squandered. In addition, CLWA has run up about a $330 million debt.

The remaining retail suppliers are far above CLWA in technology, “know-how,” etc. The Newhall County Water District is way ahead of them all with up-to-date technology, efficient management, etc.

What comes first
In the 1994 earthquake, Newhall County Water District was the only retail water supplier that didn’t have a failure of its delivery system. Should we place these well-run retailers under the roof of this mismanaged, inefficient wholesale water agency?

Your local retail water supplier has control of the ground water (wells). In the past, when CLWA was charging wholesale rates that the retailer thought were too high, the retailer just pumped more groundwater, which was cheaper. This practice has held the CLWA at bay on excessive wholesale rates.

Historically CLWA has placed most of its efforts and funds into supporting the building industry and large local developers. The community comes second.

One example is the agency forced the city to install expensive recycled water pipes in Central Park years ago. To date, Central Park still has no recycled water.

CLWA required the city to pay $3 million in connection fees to use Santa Clarita Water water to irrigate fields. It should have allowed the city to use the two wells on the property as the city did for the two farmers who previously leased the property. CLWA is not a good neighbor to the community.

Can we trust it?
CLWA desires full control of all water in this area so it can allocate most of our water supply to most-favored developers. It would be a disaster to have CLWA be the single water supplier in the SCV and would be against the original agreement of the residents.

CLWA’s act gives it the authority to raise rates for any amount, at any time, without a public vote.
The public must vigorously oppose any effort to form an all-encompassing water supplier in the SCV. We personally do not trust the agency.

Ed and Joan Dunn have been activists in water affairs for many years. They have attended most water meetings in the SCV for approximately 20 years. Ed and Joan have been past directors of the Newhall County Water District and Ed is a past director of CLWA and has served on various state water commissions/committees.


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