One of the most important offices in the November 2 election are representatives to the local water board. Castaic Lake Water Agency has four seats up for grabs and a full slate of qualified candidates eager to get your vote.
We asked them a short series of questions to give you an idea of what they stand for and how they might approach a couple of issues near to everyone’s heart and mind – rate increases and the current sanitation/salination problems posed by enforcement of the Clean Water Act by the L.A. County Sanitation Board.
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For the next few days, we will present the views, unedited, of the candidates for each office. Today, we present the two candidates running for the Division 1 seat on the CLWA board, Ed Colley and Kevin Korenthal.
1. Why are you running for this office?
Ed Colley – I have been honored to serve the residents of Canyon Country and Saugus for the last eight years on the Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) Board. I have learned a great deal about the complexities surrounding the delivery of reliable and quality water supply at a reasonable cost. I have promised in past campaigns to serve our current customers, and I have delivered on that promise. Many communities in Southern California have endured mandatory rationing over the last couple years; customers served by CLWA have only been asked to conserve voluntarily. Our water is too important for political games; our children and grandchildren rely on our making the best possible decisions today. I renew my pledge to ensure that current customers will not shoulder the costs of future development.
Kevin Korenthal – I am running for the Castaic Lake Water Agency board of directors because I feel there is a vacuum that has been created as a result of the big presence of Metropolitan Water District employees on the board. Rather than approaching challenges from the perspective of businesses and other ratepayers, the CLWA appears adamant that solutions that raise rates, compromise quality and do not increase reliability are fine as long as other short-term problems are solved. I draw your attention to the Alternative Water Resources Management plan as an example. I don’t believe the Sanitation District or the CLWA have fully leveled with ratepayers through this ordeal.
2. What do you consider your unique qualifications?
EC – I am the most qualified candidate. I have earned a Bachelor and Master Degree in Engineering. I have served as an enlisted man in both the U.S. Army and Air Force. I have earned a commission and served as an Officer in the Air Force as well. After retiring as a Captain, I moved my family to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1995. I have taught for the William S. Hart High School District for 15 years. My skills in understanding complex legal, engineering, and financial issues are highly respected. Because of these skills, and my ability to work with diverse interests in building coalitions, every elected member of the CLWA Board has endorsed my re-election. My re-election is supported by many community leaders as well, including Congressman Buck McKeon.
KK – I am a 30 year resident of Santa Clarita, a local political activist and an advocate of thousands of small businesses around California. As the executive director of a statewide association of public works building contractors, I have been able to see how Santa Clarita’s long-term water quality issues are tied to issues of statewide concern. These qualities make me the ideal person to add a new perspective to the board.
3. What would you suggest to address the chloride/wastewater dilemma facing your customers?
EC – Recently my opponent has come to support many of my positions on this issue. When the “Alternative Water Resources Management” (AWRM) Plan was first introduced two years ago, I was the only vote against it on the CLWA Board. In the last few months, my opponent has also come to the realization that this plan, and the implementing Memo of Understanding, is flawed. Currently, I continue to support efforts to find better solutions. I specifically support the creation of a “Technical Working Group” that can be tasked with examining many different possible approaches. I encourage the Sanitation District to form this group, and I will work to ensure that all of the skills available at CLWA are available to the group. Campaign rhetoric will not solve this problem; working together we will find real solutions.
KK – In the short-term, the agency needs to work with the Sanitation District to come up with a source of cheap water that can be used to dilute the water produced when we reprocess sewage water and dump it into the Santa Clara River. We don’t need to reduce the chloride by much – perhaps 20 or 30 mg/l in order to meet state guidelines.
But the permanent solution to chloride saturation in our water will require the replacement of certain segments of the system that we use in California to convey water to Southern California. The Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta region of California is where our water is subject to invasion by agricultural runoff, sea water intrusion and decaying plant life, all of which need to be treated once the water arrives at its final destination. Our chloride levels would be lowered by up to 100 mg/l AND our dependency on heavy chemical compounds such as Chloramines would be reduced if that ailing conveyance system were to be replaced.
4. If higher rates or fines are inevitable, in what other areas would you make cutbacks to mitigate the impact on the consumer?
EC – This question is interesting. I do not wait for possible increases before I look for areas where savings and cutbacks are possible. As a vigilant board member, I am always looking for opportunities to lower our costs and keep our rates lower. One recent example of this effort relates to the repayment of the debt incurred in bringing the Santa Clarita Water Company into public ownership. Specifically because of my identification of this issue, CLWA staff is working to reduce the interest payments made by the Santa Clarita Water Division customers. Current staff estimates will allow us to save these retail customers, collectively, between $200,000 and $500,000 per year.
KK – There is no doubt that the Regional Water Quality Water Board is going to try to fine Santa Clarita residents for refusing their ridiculous demands. I don’t think we can ignore them, however, rather than acquiescing to their demands, I think we should be offering other solutions, such as the ones I outline above. I will never subscribe to the idea that Santa Clarita ratepayers should be on the line for water quality issues that those ratepayers have already made great sacrifices to correct. There is much work to do and I believe my ratepayer perspective, quick study of complicated issues and sincere desire to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of ratepayers will serve this process well.
Tomorrow, the candidates for Division 2 – Bob Clark and Peter Kavounas – will answer these questions.