The Natural Resources & Water Committee of the California State Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1386, a bill aimed at clarifying the authority and roles of water agencies in southern Los Angeles county. The bill was introduced earlier this year by South Bay veteran lawmaker, Senator Alan Lowenthal.
"WRD is pleased to see this important senate bill move forward as southeast L.A. county, in particular, works to develop vital groundwater storage capacity to increase the future reliability of the water supply in this region," said WRD General Manager Robb Whitaker. "Senator Lowenthal's bill brings the clarification water districts need to help them stay in their own lane to fulfill their core missions and avoid wasteful duplication of services."
Senate Bill 1386 provides necessary clarity regarding the roles of existing water agencies related to the use of groundwater storage. This clarity is based on long-held responsibilities of these different agencies and avoids wasteful redundancy, the costs of which are passed onto ratepayers.
Attendees at the public hearing included representatives from various cities, groundwater pumpers and public interest water organizations, including the West Basin Water Assn. and the Central Basin Water Assn., both within the WRD service area. Testimony reflected that there was overwhelming agreement that this legislation is urgently needed.
"The unanimous decision from the Senate Committee should be applauded," said Jim Glancy, vice-president of the Central Basin Water Assn. "As imported water becomes less reliable and rates rise, we have a responsibility to reduce our consumption of imported water and increase the flexibility of local groundwater resources. This bill clarifies each water agency's role toward achieving that goal."
Rob Beste, a member of the West Basin Water Assn., described the vote as "a step in the right direction for local ratepayers. If we intend to maintain affordable water rates for the future, we must expand our local storage capacity, and this bill puts us on track to do that and to avoid inefficient overlaps in service," Beste said. The bill now moves to the floor of the State Senate for a vote.