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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Special District

Water Replenishment District of Southern CaliforniaCandidate for Board of Directors, Division 2

Photo of Robert "Rob" Katherman

Robert "Rob" Katherman

Director, Water Replenishment District of Southern Calif.
100,936 votes (47.09%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Complete construction of the GRIP Advanced Water Treatment Plant making our groundwater basins completely sustainable and free from the need to use imported water for groundwater replenishment.
  • Commence implementation of the Groundwater Basin Master Plan which will enable an increase of 17,000 acre-feet of stormwater capture at the Rio Honda and San Gabriel Spreading Grounds and construct 2 new brackish water desalters in the West Basin
  • Make the Disadvantaged Communities Safe Drinking Water Program permanent with the goal of obtaining $15- 20 million in Federal and State grant funding which will keep water rates affordable in the disadvantaged communities in the district and redu

Experience

Experience

Profession:Environmental Engineer - Director, Water Replenishment District
Director, Water Replenishment District Board of Directors, Water Replenishment District of Southern California — Elected position (2005–current)
Trustee, Palos Verdes Library Board of Trustees, Palos Verdes Library District — Elected position (1995–2003)

Education

California State College Long Beach B.S. Civil Engineering, M.S. Environmental Engineering and M.P.A. Public Administration, Water treatment and Supply; Regional Planning (1988)

Biography

Education: BS Civil Engineering and MS Environmental Engineer

US Navy Civil Engineer Corps - 3 years active during Vietnam War 4 years reserve. City of LA Engineering, Planning and Airport Departments – 10 year

Owner of a small consulting company specialized in project management and Land Planning – 30 years

As Vice President of the Water Replenishment District Board, I am proud to be part of the team ensuring safe, clean and affordable groundwater for 4 million residents. Today, groundwater provides nearly 50% of our local water supply and is an emergency supply during drought.

A decade ago, we adopted an action plan, Water Independence Now or “WIN”, to eliminate our dependence on imported water.

I am running for my final term to finish making our groundwater basins 100% independent from expensive imported water .

The last piece of the “WIN” Program --- A water purification plant will be completed in 2 years making our basins the first in the state completely free from costly imported water.

  • Maintained low water rates – less than 4% increase during current 5 year drought                                      
  • Budgeting Awards from the California Muni Finance Officers - 11 straight years.
  • Saved 30 billion gallons of imported water - using recycled water and stormwater capture for replenishment
  • Groundwater Master Plan – Billion dollar facilities plan to nearly eliminate the need for imported water for local use in a decade.  

Los Angeles Harbor College Foundation Board of Directors

Board Member, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation

Married for 35 years - 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Nearly 12 years ago, I was privileged to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD). I am proud to be part of the WRD team that insures safe and plentiful groundwater to serve the nearly four million residents in the 43 cities of southern Los Angeles County.

I currently serve as Vice- President of the WRD Board of Directors and I am seeking re-election to my 4th and final term. I have a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering and served on the City of Torrance Water Commission for 5 years.

 

Shortly after I was elected in 2004, WRD adopted an action plan to eliminate our dependence on imported water from northern California or the Colorado River. We called this plan, Water Independence Now or WIN.

 

Since then the WRD has built or contracted with other agencies – West Basin Municipal Water District or the City of Los Angeles to use Advance Treated Recycled Water for seawater Barrier injection and aquifer replenishment to replace imported water. As part of the WIN Program over the past 10 years, WRD  also built storm water capture projects such as inflatable rubber dams and construction of an interconnection pipeline between the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers.

 

Today, the last piece of the WIN Program is the construction of the advanced water treatment plant on a 5-acre site the District purchased in the City of Pico Rivera adjacent to the San Gabriel River. This water treatment plant will purify tertiary treated reclaimed water from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District San Jose Creek Treatment Plant in Whittier so that it can be percolated in the San Gabriel Spreading Grounds to replace 20,000 acre-feet imported water currently being used for replenishing the Basin.

 

Once this project is completed, our groundwater basin will be the first groundwater basin in the state to be completely free from imported water for groundwater recharge – our water basin will be 100% drought proof.

 

In addition to the WIN Program, 4 years ago the WRD commenced preparation of a Groundwater Basins Master Plan (GBMP) with the goal of establishing a framework of projects and management strategies to increase pumping levels in West and Central Basins to meet the adjudicated pumping limits allowed by the Basin Judgments or about 45,000 acre-feet of additional pumping above the current pumping amountmof 245,000 acre feet. This will further eliminating the need for imported water. The Draft GBMP also proposes Basin Augmentation to allow an additional 130,000 acre feet of pumping in the basin. The Draft GBMP and Programmatic Draft EIR are nearly complete and ready for release and public comment.

 

Finally the WRD has partnered with the City of Torrance to double the capacity of the Goldsworthy Desalter using the same technology as ocean desalination only using substantially less electrical energy. This plant  will treat 5 million gallons of brackish water which entered the basin aquifers before the barrier well system was constructed in the late 1950’s. When this construction is done early next year, the treated water will be put directly into the City of Torrance’s potable water distribution system thereby reducing the City’s use of imported water by 20%.

 

I am running for one more term to finish our Win/GRIP Program in the next 2 years and finalize the Groundwater Master Plan and the Programmatic EIR to increase the use of recycled water for groundwater replenishment.

 

Position Papers

“State Water Crisis Needs Local Solutions Now”

Summary

We cannot assume that what has been regarded as “normal” precipitation over the long-term will ever be normal again.   

WRD was formed in 1959 and covers about 400 square miles of south Los Angeles County, which includes about 10 percent of the state’s population. Our job is to put a pump tax on groundwater pumping and use that money to replenish the groundwater here. We replace the water that is pumped out in order to keep the basins as sources of groundwater supply.

 

Our basins have annual pumping of about 250,000 acre-feet, which is 40 percent of the total water consumed in our area—but Mother Nature only supplies about half of that. Our job is to make up the other half that Mother Nature does not supply in an average year. 

While the widely-forecast and much-anticipated El Nino dropped heavy rain and snow in Northern California, lifting reservoirs to near capacity, El Nino did not materialize in Southern California, leading us into another year of drought conditions.

All this means two main things.  

First, we cannot assume that what has been regarded as “normal” precipitation over the long-term will ever be normal again. That is not to say that we should not be prepared to capture as much local rainfall as we can when it does rain. We should, we can and we do.

But it also means that water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River cannot be relied on to meet our water needs.

That is why a decade ago, the WRD Board determined that we need to eliminate our reliance on imported water to replenishment our groundwater aquifer and adopted the Water Independence Now (WIN) strategy , which is a series of projects that utilize additional recycled water and stormwater capture with the goal of making our groundwater aquifers completely independent of imported water.

In addition to the risk of earthquake, as the state has become painfully aware, water supply from the Sacramento Delta is also vulnerable to protracted drought. So we can’t wait for a state fix, which is something WRD realized even before the State Water Project was built.

             53 years ago, WRD became the first water agency in the country to use recycled water for groundwater recharge.

              As the governor has said, we’re on “Spaceship Earth” in a closed system. We’re not going to get any more water molecules, and we need to value and put to beneficial use the ones we have.

                  In the last decade, we’ve completed the advanced water treatment plant in East Long Beach, providing 100 percent recycled water to the Alamitos Barrier, which protects against seawater intrusion in the south portion of Long Beach and the north portion of Orange County. Now, we’re completely off of imported water for replenishment in the south part of the Central Basin.

                   In the West Basin side, we partnered with West Basin Municipal Water District to build Phase 5 of their advanced treatment water plant in El Segundo. That has been completed, and replaces about two billion gallons of imported water annually with purified recycled water for the seawater barrier along the West Coast, running from the airport down to Palos Verdes. This completely eliminates the need for imported water for this seawater intrusion barrier.

                  The WRD has purchased five acres of property near the spreading grounds in the Montebello Forebay, next to the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel Rivers, where we’re going to construct an advanced water treatment plant known as the Groundwater Reliability Improvement Project, or GRIP, as we lovingly call it. That treatment plant, when completed in 2018, will eliminate the need for any imported water for replenishment of our groundwater aquifers and will completely drought-proof the Central Basin. We start construction early next year, and we’ll be done about two years after that.

                   Lastly, we’re working with the City of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Bureau of Sanitation on Phase 2 of the Terminal Island Advanced Water Treatment Facility. The mayor held a groundbreaking there in the spring. It will provide an additional two million gallons a day of recycled water for the Dominguez Gap seawater barrier, which is located north of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This will bring the entire seawater barrier system for south Los Angeles County into recycled water utilization, with no need for imported water.

                  We are also looking for funds to construct an addition to our brackish water desalting plant in Torrance which when completed next year, will allow 5 million gallons a day of salty groundwater to be pumped, treated and served to City of Torrance residents, replacing imported water.

                  Our 20-year Groundwater Master Plan, which is nearly complete, would provide a roadmap to increase groundwater pumping by 90 MGD, which, together with maintaining current conservation efforts, will reduce imported water consumed in southern LA County by nearly 50 percent.

                   The Bay Delta is a fragile system of levees that could collapse at any time. Imported water also requires a substantial amount of electrical energy consumption to be pumped over the Tehachapi Mountains.

                  We learned from the Colorado River Basin Tree-Ring Survey, which studied over 1,000 years of rainfall amounts in that basin, that there are periods of time when drought can last a century.

                  These mega-droughts are historically possible and likely to reoccur in the future. That study was a wake-up call for all local water agencies that we’ve got to take care of our local groundwater supplies. The state should look at what it did in the Water Replenishment District Act that enabled our creation, and assist in the creation of replenishment districts throughout the state to provide a source of funding for creating local recycled water and conservation for aquifer replenishment.

                We need to continue to make our local water supply more self sufficient and less reliant on imported water starting with the quickest and most basic way to reduce our reliance on imported water – using less water inside and outside our homes.

 

 

 

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