Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 3 Challenge Incumbents on Newhall Water District Board

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's a little-noticed agency, a mere asterisk on the election ballot.

The Newhall County Water District is so quiet, it hasn't even held an election in a decade because incumbents have run unopposed.

In November, however, three challengers have surfaced, charging that the five-member board has been complacent in running the district, which supplies water to 16,000 people, the majority of whom live in Santa Clarita. They accuse the incumbents of rubber-stamping staff recommendations and failing to actively advocate saving water resources.

Three seats are open in the Nov. 2 election.

"You don't see the current board members out in the community doing or saying anything about water issues," said Lynne Plambeck, one of the challengers. "It should be a sexy issue; people should pay attention to it."

The water district has not played any role in the debate over the Elsmere Canyon landfill, the area's hottest issue, Plambeck said.

"We feel we all would bring in fresh blood," candidate William Hicks said.

And candidate Ed Dunn said the board has stayed quiet about the channelization of local waterways, particularly Bouquet Creek.

Channelization, essentially paving a waterway, Dunn said, causes water to flow quickly and prevents recharging of underground supplies.

Developers use channelization to build in flood plains. The Newhall Land & Farming Co. recently received approval from the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission to build a 195-unit condominium project in a flood plain next to Bouquet Creek.

James Jinks, general manager of the district, defended the board's decision to not take a stand on the landfill, saying members had been following his recommendation that they wait for an environmental impact report on the project.

The district does oppose channelization, Jinks said, but "there has to be some hard-body (paving) that occurs, otherwise there would be no growth."

Neither Elijah Agajanian nor June Herrington, two of the incumbents seeking reelection, returned calls, while incumbent Joe Whiteside could not be reached.

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