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The New General Manager At FMWD Faces Water Challenges

July 19, 2007|By Mary O'Keefe

A small species of fish, the endangered delta smelt, may affect water supplies to La Cañadans.

In fact, concerns over reduced water supplies in Southern California is the biggest challenge facing the Foothill Municipal Water District, said new general manager .

Jazmadarian does not officially become the general manager until Aug. 6, but in an interview with the Valley Sun, she said that water has always been a precious commodity in California.

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"The most challenging [issue] is water supply," she said. "And it is more challenging with the whole issue of the Banks Pumping Plant."

Jazmadarian is referring to Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant that was shut down by the Department of Water Resources in May, due to environmental issues. The plant was shut down in an effort to protect the endangered delta smelt. It was reopened on a smaller schedule on June 10, but environmentalists have brought a lawsuit. The outcome of that suit could possibly shut the plant down for a much longer period of time.

"We think we have gotten beyond the problem [of protecting the smelt]," said Ted Thomas, spokesman for DWR. "We don't anticipate a problem."

Thomas said that the smelt appear to have moved away from the pumping stations but officials won't know for certain until more regular pumping is resumed.

La Cañada's water is supplied through Metropolitan Water District, which delivers drinking water to close to 18 million in Southern California. Jazmadarian said that if the pumping station cannot resume regular operations La Cañada's water supply would definitely be affected.

Jazmadarian is replacing former FMWD general manager Bill Pecsi. She worked for Metropolitan Water District for ten years before moving on to her most recent position as a consultant for Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., an engineering and water resource-consulting firm. She brings varied knowledge of water resources from financial management to local issues. While at Metropolitan she participated in the development of the Water Surplus a Drought Management Plan. Jazmadarian is a resident of Glendale, understands the area and the water supply issues that concern residents.

"I think the key message is one of [conservation]," Jazmadarian said.

Whether or not the pumping station is back at regular capacity, the message is still to conserve water.

"Metropolitan has stepped up their conservation [message]," she said.

She adds that area residents are aware of the need for conservation and have made efforts to be water wise.

She plans to continue the push for residents to conserve while keeping a watchful eye on the outcome of the pumping station and the smelt.

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