Santa Paula Times

Congressman Elton Gallegly watches as the water pours out after he hit the switch starting the pump.

Gallegly honored at water management project dedication

October 22, 2004
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesPerhaps is was serendipitous that the dedication of the United Water Conservation District’s Saticoy Groundwater Storage Management Project and the naming of the an important water conveyance facility for Congressman Elton Gallegly was followed several days later by heavy rain.“There are a lot more places now to put water than water to put,” Rep. Gallegly noted before the Friday dedication ceremony.The Oct. 15 dedication was held at the new well field that will allow UWCD to extract recharged water from beneath its Saticoy spreading grounds for transport to agricultural users.UWCD officials said the new project would reduce well-pumping from the area’s heavily stressed lower aquifer system and make room for additional water storage at Saticoy during wet seasons.The project had been in the works for several years UWVD Board President Sheldon Berger told the crowd attending the dedication.California has been experiencing a drought - the average rainfall throughout Ventura County had a shortfall of up 1/3 total inches during the last rain season - and additional groundwater storage is critical. More than 400,000 users on the Oxnard plain will benefit from the additional water supply, especially those agricultural users who represent the annual leading revenue for Ventura County.The project was built in cooperation with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and received a major portion of funding through a state grant matched by the Pleasant Valley County Water District.Tom Lutterman of DWR noted that UWCD - and its staff, “a cut above the rest” - and the state worked closely on the project that was completed on time and within budget.“When groundwater is effectively managed at the local level benefits are realized statewide,” Lutterman noted.
Rep. Gallegly was a leading force in the project, setting up meetings with the “right people” and leading the “tin cup league” in securing funding, said Berger. In addition, Rep. Gallegly’s efforts over his nine terms in Congress have helped ensure that “Ventura County’s water supply will remain as good as it matter how busy he was he was always there,” to serve his constituents.Berger also noted the contribution of UWCD’S John Dickenson to the project.“I brought a 45-minute speech but I thought it appropriate to water it down,” joked Rep. Gallegly.Rep. Gallegly credited former Rep. Bob Lagomarsino for being a role model in water stewardship and noted that Ventura County is home to the “most valuable ag land on the planet.”The county’s - as well as the state’s - economy, “without this facility the agricultural industry would have been seriously compromised. Water is the bloodline to California and now the future looks much brighter because of this.”Rep. Gallegly also acknowledged the presence of Santa Paulan Irv Wilde, the former UWCD General Manager.Formerly known as the “Grand Canal” the conveyance facility - an important component of UWCD recharge operations - was dedicated to Rep. Gallegly for his “unwavering support in securing appropriations for district projects,” including the construction of the Freeman Diversion Project, completed in 1991, said Berger. “We are proud to dedicate this important water conservation facility in his name and look forward to many more years of collaboration.”