Small price to pay for safe, reliable water

The recent heat wave served as a sobering reminder of how important it is to have a reliable source of water available to our communities. We’d burn up if the tap ever went dry.

But heat and drought aren’t the only big concerns. The greater threat might come from a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a fire. If one strikes, will there be enough water when we need it?

A new joint project by the Las Virgenes and Calleguas municipal water districts promises to ensure that the two agencies have water to share in case one or the other should get cut off from the Metropolitan Water District, the source that feeds both of them.

Currently, there’s a main pipeline that brings water from Metropolitan and splits into two lines: one for Las Virgenes (Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village) and one for Calleguas (North Ranch, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks). Should a pipe break during a disaster and cut off one of the areas, it’s imperative that a water supply from the neighboring agency be available. This is what the new Calleguas interconnectivity pump station being planned for Oak Park will do

In case of an emergency, the $15-million underground plant on Lindero Canyon Road just north of the Los Angeles County line will allow Calleguas to pull water from the Las Virgenes district, and vice versa. It’s an ingenious idea that allows neighbor to help neighbor and make water is available for all.

The new pump station is not an inexpensive project, but it helps to make sure that when the tap is opened, the water flows—something we all take for granted.

It’s the kind of expense we can get behind—similar to an even bigger project being discussed by Las Virgenes that would place a $100-million purification plant in Agoura Hills to convert wastewater normally dumped into Malibu Creek into drinking water (another ingenious idea). We wish, however, that Las Virgenes wouldn’t spend an additional $3-4 million just to build a mockup of the plant for demonstration purposes so the public can be sold on the idea.

The so-called pure water project and the philosophy behind it is sound, but spending millions more on what amounts to a public-relations sideshow is not. Skip the temporary mock-up; just build the main plant and be done with it.

As for the pros and cons of cost, most of the moves made by our regional water districts are done with the safety and well-being of residents in mind, and we appreciate that.

We support the new Calleguas interconnectivity pump station—and the Las Virgenes pure water plant—and a few more dollars tacked on to the customer’s monthly bill to pay for them doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Water, after all, is our very lifeblood. We need it. Unlike those $4 lattes we could skip to save a few bucks, these are important drinking-water projects we can’t do without.