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Always Advocating Alan – California’s Water Supply, A View at Both Ends of the Pool

| Opinion | July 12, 2018

With another Fourth of July parade in the books, I hope all who attended had a good time. Wednesday was a perfect day for the event, the weather was moderate, and with a parade route lined with more folks dressed in red, white and blue than ever before, there were lots of smiling faces. This year, Baby and I rode in the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center float. With a 4-foot duck on top and Dr. Dorothy Dixon Duck dressed in her lab coat and stethoscope, she demonstrated SDFHC’s continued readiness to provide quality health care for our community’s residents in need. The annual Rubber Duck Regatta is scheduled for October 13. It is loads of fun for the entire family. Plus, when you adopt some ducks, you could win some bucks, and be assured every duck adopted translates to the Dixon clinics having an increased ability to provide health care for the uninsured and under-insured.

Just in case you were wondering, Baby is my family’s female, four-legged, white, floppy-eared, curly-haired, tail-wagging Maltese who was born 13 years ago on July 4. I bring her to the parade each year to show her that everyone is out celebrating her birthday. But, I don’t think she was too excited this go around, as she slept on the seat next to me most of the time.

For our Dixon parade team, the day started early, first bringing all the necessary goodies to the staging area, and then decorating the float. Next was Rotary’s yummy pancake breakfast, with a short time to relax and listen to the band. Walking back to our float, I was approached by several community members. It was not terribly surprising when they voiced concern about all the new projects under construction in our valley, the impact on traffic, our limited water resources, and how all the new development will affect the future prosperity of Santa Clarita.

Well, it has been said that “great minds think alike,” so I did not even flinch when I saw that Lynne Plambeck had penned a column for The Signal titled, “Would a Water Agency Ever Say There Isn’t Enough?” and Dan Masnada fired back with, “Would Plambeck Ever Say There Was Enough?”

After I read both pieces, it seemed to me that each of them is standing at opposite ends of a pool, trying to determine if it is half empty, or half full. Lynne is at the shallow end. She can see the bottom and realizes the level of available water is diminishing. She points out that it is the water company’s responsibility to determine if there is enough water to supply existing and new users, while Dan is at the deep end, knowing water will go there first and therefore be under his control. He points to the 5-year Urban Water Management Plan which showed adequate water availability. But did it really show sufficient resources? I attended those meetings and remember a portion of the available water was derived by conservation. Translation: existing users reducing consumption. How is that serving our current communities?

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Now, I tend to swim in the middle of the pool. I support property owners having the right to develop what they own. At the same time, I acknowledge that development must be tempered by available infrastructure and resources. Lastly, I deplore waste, and that goes double for water.

Throughout the discussions pertaining to water availability in Santa Clarita, we kept hearing about the 20 million gallons a day processed by the SCV Sanitation District and then just being discarded into the river. Currently, the only one taking advantage of that resource is a golf course in Valencia. They use the recycled water for landscaping because Newhall Land and Farm had the foresight to pay for the distribution pipe. We keep hearing about our water company’s future plans to recycle, but it reminds me of a sign I saw in a bar which said, “Free Beer Tomorrow,” and no matter how long you wait, there is never any free beer.

Then, there is the City of Santa Clarita that appears to be still trying to find the pool. Our council and staff continue to brag about the “purple pipe” they have put in the ground. But purple pipe, which signifies non-potable water, is of no value unless it is hooked up to an appropriate water source, which it is not. For example, water being pumped by the city’s Shangri-La Drainage Benefit Assessment Districts is currently being discarded in the sewer system, rather than being used to water some of our landscaped medians.

Compounding the problem is the State of California, which does not even know there is a pool. The expansion of our state’s water conveyance system ended 35 years ago. The reduction of water delivered through the delta has decimated Central California food production, while excess water north of the delta is simply released into the ocean. Central Coast Farmers trying to stay alive have over-pumped their ground water, causing lower ground elevation in some areas.

What we are witnessing is incompetence all down the line. Hopefully, our state and local leadership will quickly come to recognize that California’s water problems will not be solved by pretending it does not exist, and start taking appropriate action. Otherwise, they may soon dive into the pool and find it empty.

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