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County to Permit Agencies to Sell Spare Water : Santa Clarita Valley: Two companies will share their ground-water reserves to make up for state cuts.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County supervisors approved an agreement Tuesday that allows Santa Clarita Valley water agencies with ample ground-water reserves to sell water to other agencies in the area.

The agreement will enable two water companies with ground water to spare--Valencia Water Co. and the Newhall Water District--to sell to the Santa Clarita Water Co., which needs additional water, and the County Waterworks District in Val Verde, which has no wells.

The sales became necessary because of drastic cutbacks in state water allocations prompted by the drought. In normal years, the 145,000 residents of the Santa Clarita Valley rely on the State Water Project for about half their water. The rest is pumped from local wells.

But the region’s allotment from the State Water Project was cut by 80% this year, said Bob Sagehorn, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which acts as the local wholesaler for State Water Project money. Of the 26,100 acre-feet requested, only 5,200 were approved, enough for the annual needs of about 10% of the population, he said.

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Under the agreement, which expires Jan. 1 but can be renewed, ground water will be sold to the agencies for $145 an acre-foot, the same price they pay for State Water Project supplies. The Castaic Lake Water Agency will transport water from one region to another through its water system.

The agreement formalizes water sharing that began earlier in the summer. It was necessary as a legal measure to ensure no precedent involving water rights was set, Sagehorn said.

Currently, there is no mandatory water rationing in the Santa Clarita Valley, except in the County Waterworks District, which had to meet county cuts of 20%. However, Gary Hartley, assistant deputy director of public works for Los Angeles County, said voluntary rationing has reduced the region’s water use by at least 15%.

Water officials said they do not believe that the additional pumping will lead to problems such as those in the Antelope Valley, where pumping from wells has caused the ground to subside. Even with the additional pumping, Santa Clarita Valley water ground-water use will fall below the limit set by water engineers, Sagehorn said.

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Sagehorn said he is optimistic that the state will make additional water available in the coming months.


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