One of the most important choices voters will consider 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.
Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox
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 2 seat on the CLWA board, Bob Clark and Peter Kavounas.
1. Why are you running for this office?
Bob Clark – I am running for office because the current incumbent has divided loyalties due to his relatively new high level day job with a water utility which is a direct competitor with the CLWA. He wants a fourth term in spite of this. I believe that 16 years is way too long, and this particularly applies when he now has conflicting loyalties. A fourth term is undeserved.
Peter advised me over the phone that he is aware that multiple mass mailings paid for by CLWA are illegal under California law. These mass mailings featured director photos, contrary to law. Peter advised me he did not intend to do anything about this. That’s not a proper attitude.
CLWA has no one on its Board who is an attorney, let alone a water law attorney with over 30 years of experience.
Peter Kavounas – I have proudly served the community for 12 years, and accomplished a great deal in this time, especially in the areas of water supply reliability and groundwater pollution clean-up. I am looking forward to continuing my service to see the perchlorate clean-up through the end, and importantly, the expansion of the recycled water system.
2. What do you consider your unique qualifications?
BC – I am a 1972 Stanford Law graduate who has spent over 30 years practicing water rights law in California for both small and very large water agencies within the State of California. I am now retired, and have no conflicts of interest.
I am highly familiar with the State Water Project, and its water quality and supply issues.
I provided legal services to CLWA from 1974 through 2003, and was general counsel to CLWA from 1988 to 2003. (I closed my law offices in 2003 upon medical advice that a very dangerous aneurysm above my heart would kill me if I continued to practice law. I then spent months fighting the insurer, before the life-saving operation occurred.)
The CLWA Board needs an attorney member, because the answer to problems is often to fight back, and just not to take the easy course of passing along costs to the rate-payers. Other directors of CLWA need to hear this, bluntly, in the necessary closed sessions on multiple matters.
PK – My day job is to manage the water utility for the City of Glendale. This experience has given me a unique perspective on what it takes to run a good utility. I have been educated in the field and hold a Bachelors Degree in Civil engineering and a Master’s Degree in Water
Resources. Finally, I have a passion for making Santa Clarita as great a community as it can be.
3. What would you suggest to address the chloride/wastewater dilemma facing your customers?
BC – The chloride “issue” has multiple solutions that will not require any significant expenditure, let alone the proposed one that will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and that’s just for the capital costs—not also the operational costs of the facility over many years.
I can remember when Orange County was significantly agricultural. Our strawberries were then grown there. Ventura County later replaced Orange County as a strawberry area–and it may be itself replaced by another area before a chloride removal plant could even be built and operational. (Years of CEQA/NEPA litigation may precede actual building of such an unnecessary plant.) In any event, always remember that (1) the so-called chloride problem primarily existsonly in drought years and (2) a lot of the water that Ventura County benefits from through river discharges was/is imported from elsewhere at the expense of the SCV.
PK – The chloride/wastewater issue is in its heart a sanitation issue, and the best agency to deal with it is the County Sanitation District. I would suggest that the City and CLWA as interested partners continue to work with the Sanitation District and the downstream groups (like farmers) and look for the right solutions for all. We need to comply with applicable rules and regulations, but only do so at the least and most reasonable cost.
4. If higher rates or fines are inevitable, in what other areas would you make cutbacks to mitigate the impact on the consumer?
BC – I disagree that higher rates and/or government fines are inevitable on account of the so-called chlorides issue. At to mitigating the costs of those, I would downsize the huge CLWA bureaucracy that has grown up since 2002. It is wasteful. The Board itself has a budget of $250,000+ per year. I think the City Council budget is actually less, and the City has way more responsibilities than the water agency.
A lot of other local cities or water agencies are impacted by the State/Federal bureaucratic/regulatory thugs. We victims need to get organized.
PK – Minimizing the total impact to the rate payer is very important to me. Ultimately the public utility business is a non-profit operation, and cuts usually mean reduction in services. Given the critical nature of water supply to our valley I would look for efficiencies in the way business is done as opposed to outright cutting out programs. There are always opportunities to improve the way business is done, incorporating new technology, looking for efficiencies in procurement of goods and services, and making sure that the agency’s plans are well-coordinated with the land-use planning of the area (City and County) so we don’t build facilities before they are truly needed.
Tomorrow, the candidates for the Division 3 seat – Carole Lutness and Jacquelyn McMillan – answer these questions.