by Sally Cook
WATER is such a precious commodity, and SB 634, also known as the Water Merger Bill, in its present configuration, is set to place the water for the whole of the Santa Clarita Valley under the control of just a few folks at Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA), who have already demonstrated that they are willing to stretch the law a bit in buying up local retail water companies in order to gain control of the valley’s water supply!
This bill is “messy,” as it has been created through lengthy planning by a few people whose end purpose is to put into place a monopolistic water bureaucracy, currently by scooping up the Newhall Water District, without giving ratepayers a chance to vote on this issue, or even to know all of the details. In fact, every citizen of Santa Clarita and its environs should have a chance to vote this bill in or out! We need transparency!
CLWA purchased the Valencia Water Company from what once was Newhall Land and Farming; included in the fine print was an agreement to provide water for the Newhall Ranch development. That means the sparse water here in the valley is to be shared, in the future, with the residents of the planned 21,500 new homes. Pretty sad, as we really don’t have sufficient water for the homes that we are occupying today.
Another thing about the Valencia Water Company, it is no longer under the control of ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY! This, because it is now “privately owned,” and provides some $800.000 or so annual profit to the CLWA. This profit (is) nicely provided by the ratepayers of Valencia Water Company (including me). In fact, shortly after the purchase of the Valencia Water Company, the rates went up some 15 percent.
And then there’s Water District 36, which is located within the boundaries of this new super district, but is not a part of it. Explain that!
Add to all of this, there are differences in the indebtedness of the various districts. At the latest look, these have not been taken under consideration. THERE MUST BE AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT!
You can easily see that this bill is not ready for approval, it needs to either go back to the drawing board with the slate wiped clean, enabling the process to begin again OR, better yet, just forget about the whole thing. We were getting along pretty well before this idea popped up. Excepting the fact that Valencia Water needs to be placed under the auspices of a proper governmental agency; the current situation is not proper!
Remember, a NO vote ON SB 634 will help assure we have enough water in the future! A YES vote will benefit Newhall Ranch, not the water users currently living in this valley!