Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors

1. long detailed stories on blogspot (here!)
2. short messages on Twitter
3. automated news feeds from CA enviro websites in the right-hand column which change frequently and are not archived by our website (that's why we now have a twitter account to permanently capture the memorable feeds)

Monday, June 23, 2008

State Legislature Fails to Crack Down on Developer Use of Polluted "paper" Water Supplies

Tainted water still counts for land developers: Amendment to count only clean water struck down in Sacramento

The Santa Clarita Signal- 6/3/08
By Jim Holt, Senior Writer

Local water activists are saddened today now that a proposed law promising to slow development through tougher conditions set on groundwater assessment has been struck down in Sacramento. Assembly Bill AB2046 requires water suppliers such as the Castaic Lake Water Agency to submit to the state the quantity and quality of groundwater being assessed in relation to supplying that water ultimately to an identified group, such as a 500-unit housing development. If a water supply is contaminated, the suppliers are required to detail for their local governments how they would treat the contamination. Once those conditions are met, the supplier can count the water in its plans.

Proposed amendments to the bill would have precluded water suppliers from relying on groundwater in calculating their water supplies. Specifically, the amended AB2046 would have precluded the supplier from relying on groundwater as a supply earmarked for any proposed development project (such as a 500-unit housing development) if the groundwater did not meet applicable state standards - such as the standard set for safe drinking water - on the date the water supply assessment is prepared.

On Thursday, members of the Assembly's Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee voted five to two in favor of amending two sections of the state Water Code, thereby removing the proposal to stop counting untreated groundwater. Cam Noltemeyer, a Santa Clarita resident concerned about how water is obtained and disseminated locally, appealed to members of the Newhall County Water District last month to endorse the recommended bill changes. "I went before the Newhall board to see if they would endorse the changes," she said Monday. "Now they're going to go back to paper water."

"Paper water" is the term used to describe groundwater assessed before it's tapped - water that appears only on paper. The proposed bill would have recognized water that had been treated first, before being counted. Noltemeyer, who does not drink Santa Clarita tap water and would "prefer not to bathe in it," fears the legislative setback will stall water cleanup efforts. "It's appalling to me that they wouldn't count it until it's clean. It's going to affect how they (water agency) look at cleaning up the Whittaker-Bermite site," she said, referring to the agency's ongoing efforts to remove the chemical perchlorate from groundwater on the former company's land.

Dan Masnada, general manager of the water agency, says the amended bill in no way alters how the agency continues to bring a clean, drinkable, uninterrupted supply of water to the residents of Santa Clarita. "It makes the bill more practical and workable for us," he told The Signal Monday. "Most importantly, we will continue to do our job as we have been doing it."

Bill Allayaud, senior consultant to Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, who authored the bill, said the bill would not have passed if it included the controversial groundwater clause. "The bill now basically asks for more transparency on the part of water suppliers," he said. "They must show the amount of water you have and the plans to supply that water." Allayaud said the state heard from a number of interested parties in the reading of the bill, including the Association of California Water Agencies, the California Building Industry Association, and various chambers of commerce. "Basically, we felt that Mr. Jones wasn't going to get the votes needed to carry the bill," Allayaud said, adding that talk about the "predictability of future water supplies" was all the buzz at the state legislature. "This is the time people are starting to pay attention to urban water management plans," he said.

No comments: