SCV Water directors set to cut own pay in show of commitment

By Scott Wilk

Water is California’s most precious natural resource. We use it to grow the world’s produce, water our lawns and everything in between. It is the key to our economic prosperity and our comfort. That’s why it’s so important to manage and utilize it efficiently.

This year, our valley took a huge step in the right direction when we came together, combining forces to form a single, valley-wide water agency, SCV Water.

It took years of planning and ultimately it even required legislation — Senate Bill 634 — which I introduced and was passed and signed by Governor Jerry Brown to allow the new agency to come in to existence. It took the hard work of dozens of people and the support and input of our entire community but we did it so the Santa Clarita Valley could prosper in to the future with water security we can count on.

Part of what will help us prosper is good governance over our water supply. The people have elected a board of directors to make decisions on everything from conservation standards, water quality improvements and how we spend our money.

It’s the latter area where I must say the board has already begun to show their prudence and commitment to the people. In a selfless show of that commitment they’ve introduced a plan to cut costs by shaving down their own pay, an unprecedented move to correct grandfathered in rules that artificially inflate board member compensation.

While not yet passed, the board will soon be considering the motion which would limit both the amount of money directors receive when attending events and meetings in an official capacity and also limit the amount of times each director can attend such events and be compensated for it. This is exactly the type of transparency and accountability we envisioned coming from our new water agency when it formed earlier this year.

The savings won’t be huge in contrast to the $224 million budget the agency has for overall costs and expenses. But, the symbolic gesture will give clear indication that the board will too do the right things with those monies as well.

Our SCV Water has already taken steps that demonstrate it will better manage our water supply for years to come and it’s moves like this one that prove we did the right thing when we combined the former Castaic Lake Water Agency, Valencia Water Company and Newhall County Water District in to one, consolidated agency to bring a united front to our water challenges.

The new agency, formed just this January, has truly hit the ground running. It has a united board where once there were multiple agencies, often feuding, serving the same area. It has already planned a $500 million water recycling project that will put countless Santa Clarita Valley residents to work. Its first ever annual budget contained over $5 million in savings. The list goes on and now they’ll be able to say what few of our leaders can; that they cut their own pay for the good of the people they serve.

With the leadership of a board of directors that puts the people first we will see the prosperity we envisioned come to life in our valley. We’ll see the future we dreamed of when we passed Senate Bill 634 and formed our new water agency. The standards being established today are setting the tone for how good governance can carry us forward to efficient management of our most precious natural resource and how commitment to the people over all else is an absolute imperative.