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WELL OWNERS CRY FOUL GROUP SAYS PANEL SHUTTING THEM OUT.

Byline: Nicholas Grudin Staff Writer

SAND CANYON - Private well owners said Wednesday that their concerns about the Castaic Lake Water Agency Groundwater Management Plan have been neglected by the utility.

The CLWA Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Council met Monday night to hear community input on a draft of the long-term plan, which is mandated to be completed before Feb. 1. According to members of the Sand Canyon Area Well Owners Association, the CLWA has moved ahead without giving due attention to the well owners.

``The evidence speaks for itself - a council was formed with no attempt to include hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of private well owners,'' said Robert Fleck, a member of the Sand Canyon group.

``It's a very, very adversarial and contentious method by which to supposedly conduct a public process. We effectively got shut out.''

The groundwater management plan is meant to be a blueprint for how the Santa Clarita Valley handles its groundwater supply under the added pressure of tremendous population growth and development that is expected in the coming decades.

The advisory board was formed in 2002, and is required by law to be composed of representatives from ``each water purveyor within the agency's jurisdiction, and one representative from each groundwater producer who produced more than 100 acre-feet of water ...''

CLWA officials said they abided by these rules, and sent out invitations to all applicable parties.

According to CLWA spokeswoman Mary Lou Cotton, the public meeting Monday night was an opportunity for anyone who is not on the advisory board to be heard.

``The agency feels that the Sand Canyon people have raised some legitimate concerns and we do intend to respond,'' Cotton said.

Fleck and his wife, Jane, believe their association has been purposely neglected despite the fact that the association's total annual water production is far more than 100 acre-feet.

Fleck thinks the handful of well owners who are in his association should be viewed collectively, instead of as six different and smaller water producers.

``CLWA only barely, questionably, satisfied the letter of the law. They are simply going to put into their final report whatever they want to put into their final report,'' Fleck said.

But CLWA officials contend that no final decisions on the plan have been made and that Fleck is overreacting.

``A groundwater management plan is a living document - it will contain opportunities for local entities to participate and we would very much like to have input from them - there will be ongoing studies and input for years to come,'' Cotton said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 9, 2003
Words:423
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