All residents of the Santa Clarita Valley should have confidence that their water is clean and safe to drink and use.
The two prominent types of contaminants that have been detected in our local groundwater are:
1) ammonium perchlorate; and
2) per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Ammonium perchlorate was first identified in our groundwater in 1997 and since then has affected a number of our groundwater wells. The affected wells were taken offline, and treatment equipment is being installed to remove the contaminant. Ammonium Perchlorate is regulated as an acutely toxic substance due to concerns about its potential for effects on developing fetuses and young children. It interferes with iodide uptake by the thyroid gland, which can decrease production of thyroid hormone needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development in children, as well as for normal metabolism and mental function in adults.
PFAS was detected in August 2019 at levels that required action and since then about 40% of the groundwater production wells have been shut down until treatment facilities are installed. One treatment facility is currently being built, and four others are under review for installation throughout the valley. Exposure to unsafe levels of PFAS may result in adverse health effects including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, cancer, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects, and cholesterol changes.
Kathye will ensure that public health is always prioritized, and that science is used to guide decisions as the contaminants are addressed.
All residents and businesses of the Santa Clarita Valley should have affordable water service with reasonable collection policies.
The treatment costs to remove the PFAS from the affected groundwater wells are significant and Kathye will closely watch how the costs affect the budget, ask the water agency to pursue reimbursement of those costs as possible, and protect rates to customers.
Additionally, the special considerations given to customers who are economically impacted by COVID-19 should continue as long as COVID-19 affects our workforces.
The current process of re-evaluating rates is conducted by a Ratepayer Advocate, which is an outside organization paid by SCV Water to produce its findings and recommendations on the rates. Kathye will advocate for the idea of having the Scope of Work of the Ratepayer Advocate include requiring input from actual SCV Water ratepayers early in the process of the re-evaluation of rates.
The youth of Santa Clarita should have confidence that the decision-makers in their community are making decisions now to mitigate the anticipated effects of climate change so that their generation and subsequent generations can enjoy sustainable sources of water, along with other plentiful natural resources.
The consensus of the scientific community is that our climate is changing, and that areas that are dry will continue to get drier. The concept of sustainability should be included in all guiding documents and reflected in the decisions made by the Board.
Kathye would like to see the water agency decrease reliance on imported water through the protection of our groundwater recharge areas, expansion of the recycled water program as appropriate, support of consistent efforts to remove invasive plants in the riverbed, support of local efforts to establish stormwater capture projects, and continued promotion of water-wise gardening/landscaping.
Additionally, it is important to continue to educate the next generation on how we can be good stewards of our resources, and Kathye would encourage the continued expansion of the conservation education program for local students. Lastly, Kathye would like to see the addition of a local youth/student advisory role to the Board of Directors similar to that of the Student Board Member for the William S. Hart School District. The decisions being made affect their futures the most, and the youth should be assured their future needs are being adequately considered.
The residents and businesses of Santa Clarita Valley should expect that SCV Water has a regularly updated formal plan in place that considers anticipated events that could disrupt water service, ways to mitigate disruption with actions that can be taken now, and plans to deal with disruption should they still occur.
One clear lesson from recent events is that proper planning for worst-case scenarios is important. Since we live in an area prone to earthquakes and fires (that often come with power outages), it is important that the water agency properly anticipate and plan for how to maintain water distribution and treatment during and after these natural disasters.
All residents of Santa Clarita Valley should have the opportunity to participate in events hosted by the Water Agency and be a part of the discussion.
There should not be ANY barriers, including cost, to customers and ratepayers to attend events hosted by SCV Water, and proper notice should be given to make the public aware of events.
Earlier this year (pre-COVID), the SCV Water Agency was planning on hosting a Water Summit for local water officials, local businesses, and community members to learn about current issues and participate in dialogue. The cost of attendance was $100 (or $75 if you registered early). Kathye believes that community members should NOT be expected to pay to have access to community dialogue about the water they drink and use, and this unfairly prices people who can't afford this cost out of the conversation.
Kathye will ensure that customers and ratepayers DO NOT have to pay to learn about the quality of their water or have their voices heard.
Customers and ratepayers interested in knowing the business of the Water Agency should be able to understand what decisions are made by the Board and how they impact them.
While the meeting materials and recordings are available on the agency website, the lingo and technical aspects of the materials are difficult to understand to someone who does not work in water management on a regular basis.
Kathye would like to see the SCV Water Agency include a summary of decisions made at the Board meetings that are understandable to the public, similar to what the Santa Clarita City Council shares on their social media after their meetings. Lastly, Kathye would like to see the Board host local students at Board meetings twice a year to allow students to see how decisions are made about their water.