Crescenta Valley Water District has continued moving forward with its commitment to public outreach. Our first “State of the District” report was recently sent out to provide an update on where the District is operationally and financially. This report includes a look ahead to the efforts, challenges and opportunities involved with continuing to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater services. Also, a public opinion survey was recently conducted with the community by a professional polling firm. The purpose is to determine a representative understanding of what are the needs and perceptions of our customers, and we will incorporate these results into future planning and decision-making processes. Finally, we hosted our first “Office Hours” last month at the La Crescenta Library.

Thank you to those who took time out of their evenings to join and meet with our staff and board members. I know there was a lot of fruitful conversation including ideas shared and questions addressed. Two recurring points of input were: 1) what are we doing to pursue grant funding; 2) what are we doing to capture storm water, a timely question on the heels of the fourth-highest rain year on record last year (48.1”) and the storms over the last several weeks.

Storm water capture is common sense. The last 22 years in California, other than the atmospheric rivers from last year, have been the driest in 12 centuries. Meanwhile, we collectively observe (and wince at) millions of gallons of storm water washing out to the ocean. However, we are in an environment where there are complicated downstream claims to water rights and challenges to completing even relatively basic projects – e.g. directing water from the storm channels into infiltration galleries under the ball fields at CV County Park. Though we continue to pursue these projects, we must consider alternatives in the interim.

One alternative we’ve followed up on is a partnership between our wholesale agency, Foothill Municipal Water District, and the City of Pasadena’s Water & Power Dept., the City of Glendale’s Water & Power Dept., the California Data Collaborative and NASA. This partnership has recently submitted a grant proposal to Metropolitan Water District. Winning the grant means being able to pursue low-cost, green infrastructure projects to capture storm water, including potential partnerships with LA County. And even if we don’t receive grant funds, this collaboration demonstrates an entirely new level of partnership among our regional stakeholders, and that road can only lead to good things. Particular thanks to Nina Jazmadarian, general manager of Foothill MWD, and Patrick Atwater, Regulatory & Public Affairs manager, for quarterbacking this process through which we fed two birds with one pie (going after both storm water and grants).

We’ve submitted for other grants as well. One grant provides funding for a more robust Emergency Response Plan (ERP), one of the District’s highest priorities as a water purveyor. We were recently awarded a grant to supplement the cost of a sorely needed replacement for an excavator (heavy equipment digger) beyond its last legs. We were also recently awarded a grant to help pay for a study regarding the feasibility of treating wastewater collections to provide recycled water. These external grant moneys provide additional bang for our buck as a community.

Switching gears a bit, we recently completed financing of a bond as planned, with a very favorable credit rating from Standard & Poor’s (AA-) and a very favorable interest rate with the financing structured for the flexibility to refinance in five years. The bonds pair with the capital charge on the property tax roll by leveraging customers’ dollars to stretch costs over a few generations and allow pipeline to be replaced sooner rather than later. Since proactive maintenance costs several multiples less than reacting to emergency water main breaks or sewer overflows, we are also capturing significant savings over the long run. Meanwhile, construction costs continue to soar, and we are getting creative to control the rapidly rising cost of infrastructure (well over 50% over the last several years, which our rates can’t keep up with). We’re talking about the prospect of a continued focus on using our own skilled employees to replace pipelines as needed. Currently, we are conducting a pilot study to determine whether the savings from in-house replacement are significant enough to justify investing in the equipment and personnel needed to sustain a long-term effort in this area.

Speaking of personnel, our water and wastewater professionals are serving behind the scenes night and day. Thank you to Morgen DuRose, Systems Operator II, and Kellen Boyce, System Operations manager, for working closely with Jay Bobnes, Operations manager at Foothill MWD during Metropolitan’s weeklong shutdown of the main line feeding imported water to agencies such as us. Customers didn’t notice because we maintain abundant storage for emergency preparedness (up to 10 days, which is well above average), but that effort represents deft inter-agency planning and coordination. Thank you to Darlene Telles, Operations and Maintenance manager, Siaki Mortenson, crew lead, and Jonathan Russo, crew lead, for accelerating a hydrant inspection and maintenance program in coordination with local fire officials to ensure adequate pressure and operations during fire. And welcome to Avo Matsunyan, a local living within our service area who recently joined to maintain and protect the facilities customers’ dollars pay for.


Lastly, you will recall that the board of directors recruited a replacement for director Judy Tejeda, who tendered her resignation after more than 30 years of service. I’m happy to share their selection of director Jennifer Valdez, who was sworn in earlier last month. Director Valdez represents customers not only as a homeowner who has adopted conservation-based landscaping but as an experienced engineering professional for Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power. From there, she brings the perspective of having worked with water rights, civil engineering, public outreach and conservation. Please join me in welcoming her to the District’s board.

Thank you for taking the time to read and for continuing the dialogue. Our next Office Hours at the Library is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m.

James Lee, General Manager

Crescenta Valley Water District