By Kevin D. Korenthal
During this campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to speak directly with hundreds of Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) ratepayers. Hearing firsthand from working men and women, I am more convinced than ever that new leadership will improve the CLWA Board of Directors.
When I announced my candidacy in February, I pledged to face issues directly and level with ratepayers about long overdue solutions to the Santa Clarita Valley’s ongoing water quality problems. Every day, I talk to people and ask for their input. Over and over again, I hear the same story.
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“The water smells, tastes bad and is too hard.”
I agree, and believe that it doesn’t have to be this way. But it’s going to take new leadership to get the job done. Incumbents on the CLWA Board of Directors have not addressed this issue, choosing instead to serve lobbyists in Ventura County and bureaucrats in Sacramento. Meanwhile, the price of water has gone up in the Santa Clarita Valley and the quality of that water has gone down.
This is unacceptable. You deserve better.
One major example of the CLWA’s negative impact on water quality is also one of the most controversial topics on the minds of local ratepayers. Farming interests in Ventura County have complained for years about allegedly high levels of chloride that Santa Clarita is dumping into the Santa Clara River as a result of local wastewater reprocessing operations. In 2005 the CLWA and the Los Angeles Sanitation District promised that if ratepayers would vote to give up their self-regenerating, salt-based water softeners, the chloride levels would drop and we would not be faced with the need to spend billions of dollars to add chloride filtration technology to combat rising chloride levels.
Voters trusted CLWA and gave up their water softeners, and chloride levels have fallen. Why then are ratepayers still facing a billion dollar bill to build chloride treatment infrastructure? The reason is because the CLWA Board approved the Alternative Water Resources Management Plan (ARWM) that commits Santa Clarita ratepayers to pay for facilities that benefit Ventura County farmers and residents. CLWA’s foremost priority must be the well being of ratepayers. They should be fighting for us. They have failed.
California is facing statewide water challenges and CLWA can best serve ratepayers by playing a leadership role to help solve the crisis. As our water travels through the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Region, it collects decaying plant life and other biological elements along with elements from agricultural runoff. This poses significant water treatment challenges. While most water can be treated with a standard chlorine treatment, water high in organic material requires treatment with a chemical compound called Chloramine (chlorine and ammonia) in order to prevent noxious chemicals called trihalomethanes from forming.
The Department of Health and Human Services determined in 1992 that Chloramine used in low levels are safe for everyday use, but the fact of the matter is that no one has gone back and studied the results of the long-term use of Chloramines. The Centers for Disease Control has determined that when Chloramine reacts with biological matter and becomes mist, which can occur in indoor swimming pools and public showering facilities, the chances of an asthma attack in children are increased. Emerging evidence suggests that many undiagnosed skin and food allergies are actually the result of ingestion and skin contact with Chloramine. This compound also contributes greatly to the poor taste and smell of our water.
It’s time to put ratepayers first. That’s exactly what I will do. Accordingly, I will demand answers detailing the long-term effects of the use of Chloramines in water and, if the evidence points us there, demand that we find other ways to safely treat our water.
Finally, I believe that the CLWA must make real water quality improvements for Santa Clarita ratepayers. Customers today have few options to soften their water. There are cheap, gimmicky devices on the market, but the only effective and legal way to soften water is through an exchange tank system that costs between $40 and $70 per month.
There is an alternative.
Pellet Water Softening Technology is now used in Valencia, which serves pre-softened water to 420 customers in the Valencia Water Company service area. The technology uses an electrical and chemical process to remove the calcium that causes water hardness from the water and attaches it to grains of sand. The “byproduct”, can then be sold for various manufacturing and agricultural purposes. Sales can offset costs by up to 33 percent, lowering the average monthly cost for ratepayers to between $7 and $9.
So as you can see, there are better ways to manage the CLWA. There are better ways to improve water quality. And there is a better way to serve ratepayers. It starts with fresh ideas and a commitment to working with the community to fight for common sense solutions. Reliable water quality, fair rates and continuous accountability; that’s my platform and my promise to you.
The Mission Statement of the CLWA is to provide reliable, quality water at a reasonable cost to the Santa Clarita Valley. Let’s work together to return the Agency’s focus to this mission. I would be honored to have your support and your vote on Election Day November 2nd, 2010. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org  if you have any questions.
Kevin D. Korenthal is a 30 year resident of Canyon Country and a candidate for the Castaic Lake Water Agency Board of Directors. You can learn more about his campaign at www.korenthal.com . His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of KHTS or his employer.