The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District can move forward with its state-mandated chloride compliance plan to remove environmentally harmful salts from its wastewater, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.
In case #BS145869, Judge James C. Chalfant ruled to partially discharge a complaint filed by against the district by the Affordable Clean Water Alliance.
“The judge told us to move forward with the advanced treatment plan to improve water quality in the SCV,” said Laurene Weste, SCV Sanitation District board member.
“We have a state-mandated deadline of July 1, 2019 to have the chloride compliance facilities in place,” said Basil Hewitt, public information supervisor for the Los Angeles Sanitation Districts, which includes the SCV Sanitation District.
“Before this ruling, the judge had told us we couldn’t do anything in terms of designing or constructing these facilities,” he said. “This ruling allows us to pick up our pencils again.”
Hewitt said the district’s next step is to finish the design of facilities for the various elements of the Chloride Compliance Plan, then select a contractor to build them.
“Some of the components are ultra-violent disinfection facilities at the Saugus and Valencia water treatment plants, for example,” Hewitt said. “We’re really close to completing the design of the UV disinfection facilities. We’ll do our level best to build those facilities by the mandated deadline while still complying with CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act).”
“There was a legal challenge (from the to the (2013) CEQA document for the compliance plan and when it went to court, the court felt that additional work needed to be done on an endangered fish called the three-spined unarmored stickleback,” Hewitt said.
“So what we’ve done is separated out the recycled water component of the project we had in 2013 from the chloride compliance project, and now the Chloride Compliance Project that has a state-mandated deadline can move forward,” he said.
“We’re now doing additional studies on the three-spined unarmored stickleback and we’re going to release a separate environmental document on our efforts to put more recycled water back into the community,” Hewitt said.
“The chloride compliance facilities are pre-eminent and have a time sensitivity, and the recycled water program fits into our mission of providing service to arid Southern California,” Hewitt said. “Our priority is getting those facilities built, and right now as we digest this recent court ruling, we’re working on a more defined schedule for the EIR for the recycled water project.”
“We strongly support recycled water for Santa Clarita,” said Laurene Weste, SCV Sanitation District board member. “Twenty million gallons of water go into the (Santa Clara River) every day, more than half of that coming from the California Water Project. The river didn’t have that much water going into it pre-1962, but as Santa Clarita has grown, so has the amount of water.”
Weste said the district will work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to determine how much of that water needs to stay in the river for the river’s health, and how much can be reused by the communities that pay for the water.
“You can’t just take water out of the river,” she said. “At some point, Fish & Wildlife will come up with an answer on what is environmentally correct for the river and the fish.”