[KHTS] – Sanitation District engineers have announced their recommendations for chloride treatment of the Santa Clarita Valley’s wastewater.
The final facilities plan and EIR include a recommended project consisting of two alternatives, which were chosen because they had the highest ranking, according to various criteria.
“Alternative 4, (the phased AWRM) Phase I is the top-ranked alternative but requires regulatory approval,” said Basil Hewitt, senior engineer for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District. “It was the potentially the least costly and has the least environmental impact.”
The Sanitation District, which is overseen by Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar and county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is expected to approve a recommended option at their Oct. 28 board meeting.
The Sanitation District must choose a plan, and the staffers’ recommendation is based on the one that was least costly for ratepayers, and a plan to work with the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Board to lower the chloride limit.
Sanitation District officials have been working to meet a chloride limit set by the state’s RWQCB since 2008, but failed to meet a deadline last year to come up with a plan to lower the amount of chloride in the water Santa Clarita Valley residents send downstream to Ventura County farmers.
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Alternative 4 phase I would only lower the chloride level in the Santa Clara watershed about 10 milligrams per liter, according to district officials, and the state is asking that the Santa Clara River watershed contain chloride levels no more than 100 milligrams per liter, and the level is currently at about 130 milligrams per liter, based on an average of the two local plants in Valecia and Saugus.
The Clean Water Act allows the board to set chloride levels based on the “beneficial uses” of downstream users, which is why residents likely are facing a bill to pay for the construction of facilities to remove chloride in the Santa Clara River watershed.
“We need to have an approved chloride compliance plans, or we will be hit with large wasteful fines on top of building chloride treatment facilities,” Hewitt said.
“The reason two alternatives are recommended is that the Phased AWRM will require both state approval and a change in the state’s chloride level for the Santa Clarita Valley,” according to an EIR released by SCV Sanitation District engineers.
“Since it can’t be known … if the state will take those actions, the SCV Sanitation District is recommending a backup alternative ‘Reverse Osmosis with Deep Well Injection,’ which complies with the state’s existing chloride limit,” according to the engineer’s report.
Sanitation District staff also is challenging whether local ratepayers shoudl have to pay for chloride treatment.
The initial report released for comment by Sanitation District officials contained several proposed fee increases for ratepayers that were expected to take place by the completion of the projection in the fiscal year 2019-2020.
For Alternative 4 of the AWRM, the cost to ratepayers based on the average usage associated with a single-family home would be about $395 per year, if the plan stayed in Phase 1. If Phase 2 needs to be implemented, then the cost would jump to $535 per year.
If Alternative 2,the deep-well injection is implemented, then the rate would increase to $410 per year.
A report released by Sanitation District officials contained an overview of the Sanitation District’s operations, common misconceptions and why district engineers made the recommendation they did.
“Over a 10-year period, the SCVSD repeatedly challenged the state’s numerous mandates and actions relating to chloride, or salt, in the Santa Clarita Valley,” the report stated.
“Fine amounts could reach many millions of dollar,” the report states. “In addition, if the (Santa Clarita Valley’s) treatment plants are not upgraded, the state could take control away from the local SCVSD.”