NEWS WORTH NOTING: SAWPA General Manager Celeste Cantú to depart; State Water Board approves $35M for East Porterville water project; Appellate Court holds that reclamation districts are permitted to assess school districts

SAWPA General Manager Celeste Cantú to depart

From the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority:

The commission of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority has announced that General Manager Celeste Cantú will leave SAWPA, effective June 30.

Cantú, who has led SAWPA for more than a decade, will become CEO of the Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL), a California water policy academy whose mission is to educate California’s next generation of water policy leaders.

“Celeste has provided SAWPA with visionary leadership and will be greatly missed – she has brought SAWPA and OWOW to a statewide level,” said Susan Lien Longville, chair of the SAWPA Commission.  “Now we will focus on finding the right person continue building on SAWPA’s success.”

Cantú said she leaves the agency in qualified hands.  “I have been so fortunate to work with dedicated professionals at SAWPA and look forward to the same at WELL. I am happy to leave SAWPA financially strong, in the hands of dedicated commissioners who govern the agency, and a talented staff to implement their vision.”

A graduate of Yale University and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, Cantú previously served as executive director of the California State Water Resources Control Board and state director of USDA Rural Development.

Cantú’s key achievements with SAWPA include the creation of One Water One Watershed (OWOW), an inclusive, integrated regional approach to water strategy that helps ensure a resilient river watershed.  She has also overseen the Inland Empire Brine Line, which began as an effort exclusively to protect drinking water in Orange County; today, the project’s desalters provide millions of gallons a day of drinking water for the Inland area, as well.  The Brine Line has become economic-growth engine for Inland California, allowing clean disposal of brackish water discharge from industry and utilities, ranging from computer chip manufacturers to food processors to power plants.  Over the past 10 years, SAWPA has contributed $850 million in watershed projects in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

SAWPA, a joint powers authority, helps ensure healthy, reliable and sustainable water resources in California’s fastest-growing areas: Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties, home to 6 million people.  The JPA’s five members are the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and Eastern Municipal, Orange County, San Bernardino Valley Municipal, and Western Municipal water districts.

Cantú, honored as the keynote speaker at the upcoming OWOW conference on May 25, said her legacy is promoting a new water ethic while protecting and enhancing water resources – the lifeblood of California – through strategic partnership.  “Water is finite, but through cooperation it can an infinite resource,” she said.

State Water Board Approves $35 Million for East Porterville Water Project

Board Action Just one of Three Aimed at Helping Struggling Communities in Tulare County

From the State Water Board:

The State Water Resources Control Board has approved up to $35 million in Proposition 1 grants and loan forgiveness to connect East Porterville residents with dry and contaminated wells to a clean and reliable source of drinking water.

The approval was one of three separate actions by the Board this week aimed at providing financial assistance to small and disadvantaged communities in Tulare County, which has sustained some of the worst impacts of California’s five-year drought. All told, the Board approved $37,252,000 for emergency and long-term solutions to supply safe drinking water to residents of Tulare County.

Hundreds of East Porterville residents have had their wells run dry during the drought, and those who still have access to groundwater can’t drink it because much of it is contaminated. As a result, residents of the unincorporated area in Tulare County have been relying on deliveries of bottled water and non-potable water to large temporary tanks installed on their properties.

In an unprecedented effort, state and local agencies are connecting approximately 1,100 eligible properties with dry or contaminated private wells to the city of Porterville’s public water system, as a long-term solution to the drought emergency. Residents’ connections to Porterville’s water system will be entirely paid for by the state.

The project is a collaborative effort of three state agencies — State Water Board, Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California Office of Emergency Services – and the governments of Tulare County and the City of Porterville.

The Board’s approval of up to $35 million will help construct a new and expanded water distribution system, and upgrade Porterville’s current water system to meet the demand of additional customers from East Porterville. As of March 31, 2017, 330 homes in East Porterville have been connected to the water system. The home connections are expected to be completed at the end of 2017.

To learn more about the East Porterville Water Supply Project, see DWR’s website:

In addition to the $35 million, the Board approved $252,000 to supply bottled water to the community of Seville, a small, severely disadvantaged community of about 400 residents facing water supply and water quality issues. The Board also approved $2 million for Tulare County’s Countywide Bottled Water Program for qualified, disadvantaged households that have  a dry well or contamination.

Appellate Court Holds That Constitution Overrides Statutory Exemption Related to Proposition 218 Assessments; Reclamation Districts Are Permitted to Assess School Districts

From Downey Brand:

In a reversal of a lower court decision, the Third District Court of Appeal has held that the California Constitution’s provisions related to Proposition 218 override a statutory exemption that a school district argued originally precluded a reclamation district from assessing its property.  Manteca Unified School District v. Reclamation District 17 (Third Appellate District, Case No. C077906). Downey Brand filed an amicus brief in support of Reclamation District 17.


Reclamation District 17 (District) is a flood control and drainage district in San Joaquin County.  It assesses property within its boundaries for the costs associated with a levee seepage project.  Manteca Unified School District (Manteca) owns real property within the district’s boundaries.

The district is governed by Sections 50000 et seq. of the California Water Code, including section 51200, which provides that assessments levied by reclamation districts include all lands within the district “…other than public roads, highways, and school districts.” (Water Code section 51200)

Continue reading at Downey Brand here: Appellate Court Holds That Constitution Overrides Statutory Exemption Related to Proposition 218 Assessments; Reclamation Districts Are Permitted to Assess School Districts


Daily emailsGet the Notebook blog by email and never miss a post!

Sign up for daily emails and get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. Breaking news alerts, too. Sign me up!


About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: