Water availability issue takes center stage at first group of meetings.
This morning, a Santa Clarita delegation consisting of over 70 community leaders hopped on a bus in their annual pilgrimage to Sacramento to discuss issues important to local residents.
The fourth “road trip,” organized by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth’s office, and sponsored by AT&T, provides a chance for local business, community and elected officials to speak face to face with state policy makers on critical issues.
The major topics of discussion will be water availability, transportation and education funding, although talk on the budget and other state issues are recurring themes.
The group pulled into Sacramento just in time to hear opening remarks from Assemblyman Smyth, and continued with a brief discussion on current water availability challenges from Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) Board Member Bill Cooper before the group heard from Assemblyman Jared Huffman.
Cooper’s remarks included a detailed account on the recent limitations imposed on water passing through the Delta, a freshwater site where a large amount of water is pumped and subsequently passed on to southern California communities. Like most southern areas, Santa Clarita is serviced though a mix of groundwater supplies and imported water, with much of that coming through the Delta.
After close to half a century of employing a state water conveyance system including the Delta, a species known as the Delta Smelt has been dying off in drastic numbers, Studies have shown that the ecosystem in the Delta is crashing and as a result, a court ordered limitation on water pumping in the affected area has, for the second consecutive year, severely strained southern California’s ability to get additional water.
Cooper spoke of a water bond that failed last year, which would have set aside money to build a peripheral water conveyance system around the delta. CLWA believes that such a project would greatly enhance the ability to provide a consistent source of water for southern California communities.
But while the peripheral canal may work wonders for the water delivery system, its not exactly a quick fix.
“Even at best, you’re a decade away from delivering water,” said Assemblyman Huffman, who chairs the Assembly, Parks and Wildlife committee.
Huffman went on to say that it’s important to persure quick solutions now, while still working to revise the Delta’s ecosystem, This, he said, will help combat the looming crisis before it completely colapses.
He noted that other species in the Delta, such as salmon populations, are already nearing the same dwindling numbers of the smelt.
Water recycling is one big way that Huffman predicts the state will deal with water shortages in the future, although he admitted that some people are still having difficulty accepting the idea.
“We can filter out the pollutants, but we can’t filter out the fear,” he said.
CLWA has stockpiles of water in the southland to draw upon in draught years such as these, however they are still pushing for surface storage improvements, a solution to the Delta crisis and improvements of water use efficiencies.
Tonight, the group will have dinner at the Firehouse in Old Town Sacramento, and will welcome guest speaker Mac Taylor, who serves as the State Legislative Analyst.
Tomorrow morning, meetings are scheduled all day long with state legislators and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott.
KHTS will follow that day’s events and report online at hometownstation.com. A full report on each issue will be adressed in detail later this week.