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Water providers and other agencies across the Valley have come together to formalize the informal agreements they have to help each other in times of emergency.

“There’s been a handshake agreement for some time,” Rosamond Community Services District Public Works Manager Brach Smith said in introducing the agreement to that District’s Board.

The Mutual Response Agreement for Antelope Valley Agencies is the result of efforts started in April 2019, when the City of Lancaster approached the Palmdale Water District about partnering on emergency aid, PWD Human Resources Director Jennifer Emery recounted to the Antelope Valley State Water Contractors Association Thursday.

The agreement includes the Palmdale Water District, Quartz Hill Water District, Rosamond Community Services District, Littlerock Creek Irrigation District, Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, Los Angeles County Waterworks District 40 and the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

Three of the agencies involved — Palmdale Water District, AVEK and Littlerock Creek Irrigation District — contract with the State Water Project for water delivered through the California Aqueduct.

The draft agreement was prepared by the end of 2019, but progress was stalled last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was taken up again last month.

While it doesn’t commit any of the member agencies to providing assistance, it provides a framework to share resources — personnel and equipment, Emery said.

While the goal was to provide in emergencies, it may also be used in instances such as sharing seldom-used equipment between agencies.

The agreement is currently making the rounds of the member agencies for approval.

“I’m excited to see that we’re getting this done and we’re helping each other out regionally,” Palmdale Water District Director Kathy Mac Laren-Gomez said.

Since July, a local group of small mutual water agencies has also expressed interest in joining, which would require an amendment to the agreement, Emery said.

That group is meeting monthly to work on what such an amendment would entail, with the matter of required insurance the biggest issue, she said.

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