Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District officials are preparing for the second phase of a massive public outreach campaign to solicit input for water-treatment options in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Local Sanitation District officials have authorized more than $800,000 to help get the word out about the options through draft reports, according to district documents.
“We’re coming up on a bunch of meetings,” said Don Avila, division engineer in charge of public information. “The documents themselves will be released (Wednesday).”
On Wednesday, the documents will be available on the Sanitation District website, detailing the various options that will be presented during a series of public hearings over the next two months.
The options concern water-treatment and -reclamation plants that could cost local ratepayers tens of millions of dollars.
Once the documents are released, the public will have 60 days to comment on the alternatives and the documents that detail the costs of the district’s options, said Basil Hewitt, senior engineer with Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation Districts.
Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Outreach
“We released scoping documents last year, and now we’re releasing draft chloride compliance facility plans and the accompanying EIR that evaluates the options,” Hewitt said.
“We want community input so we can get a final project approved and once we get that, we’re going to roll that up into a draft EIR and we’re going to submit that to our board for approval,” Hewitt said.
Community Conservation Solutions, a third-party consultant contracted by the Sanitation District, was paid to conduct the outreach.
City Councilwoman Laurene Weste sits as an unpaid member on the board of directors for CCS.
She did not return calls for comment on this story.
City Mayor Bob Kellar and Weste are the two local officials who sit on the water board, along with county Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas.
Kellar said he has met with Esther Feldman after City Councilman TimBen Boydston raised questions about the board’s public-outreach spending.
“I gave a report. Everything that I’ve learned has been nothing short of excellent, and we’ve been able to utilize their expertise,” Kellar said. “On surveys and a myriad of things — by virtue of helping the Sanitation District they’ve been helping the SCV.”
He additionally said he met with Esther Feldman, who runs CCS, and was impressed by her. Feldman did not return calls for this story.
Santa Clarita Valley chloride levels
Three informational meetings will precede three public hearings where input will be solicited, Hewitt said.
“We have three of those coming up: On May 14, at Live Oak Elementary School (in Castaic) at 7 p.m.; May 15 at Rosedell Elementary (in Saugus); and at the Santa Clarita Activity Center on May 23,” he said.
The doors will open for all of the events at 6:30 p.m., and the informationals will start at 7 p.m.
These will merely be informationals. Public input will be sought June 4 at Newhall Elementary; June 5 at Stevenson Ranch Elementary and June 13 at Sulphur Springs Elementary, Hewitt said.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District was recently fined $280,000 for its failure to meet state-mandated deadlines in regard to the state’s Regional Water Quality Board demands that it come up with option to lower chloride levels in Santa Clarita Valley effluence.
The Sanitation District eventually reached a settlement reducing the original proposed fine from $280,000 down to $225,000.
Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar said that while he’s happy the district was able to reduce the fine by 20 percent, he is not pleased with the lack of progress the SCV made in reducing its wastewater chloride problem.
“What’s more concerning to me (than the fine) is our ability to satisfy the Regional Water Quality Control Board as we go into the future,” Kellar said.
The mayor added that while many citizens took the issue to heart, some are still using their old, illegal salt-based water softening systems.
“I know we don’t have 100 percent compliance among our citizens. If we did, we might have reached the (state mandated) 100 milligrams per liter,” he said.
For 10 years, the district has unsuccessfully challenged the state’s wastewater salt limits, including the science used to determine those limits and the timeline imposed by the state.
The Sanitation District currently meets in Whittier, but according to district officials, board members have the ability to meet within their district’s boundaries, which are based on watersheds, and not county- or city-drawn lines.
Sanitation Districts 14 and 20, which primarily compose Lancaster and Palmdale districts, both meet in the Antelope Valley area, according to Avila.