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| Wednesday, Apr 17, 2019
Above-ground signs warn of subterranean gas lines at the edge of Placerita Creek in Newhall. | Photo: Austin Dave/The Signal.
Above-ground signs warn of subterranean gas lines at the edge of Placerita Creek in Newhall. | Photo: Austin Dave/The Signal.

 

Southern California Gas Co. officials responded to questions raised by the Santa Clarita City Council about a violation notice of the Clean Water Act the utility received during work in Placerita Canyon, indicating a hydraulic study is underway.

On March 12, council members asked SoCal Gas spokeswoman Marisol Espinoza to provide an update on the pipeline work and clarify some of the concerns residents near the project site have raised, including those of Kevin Ward, who believes the project is an environmental hazard.

The project required maintenance work on a high-pressure gas transmission pipeline that was exposed near Placerita Canyon Road and Golden Oak Lane and consisted of installing hinged concrete revetment mats over the pipeline in Placerita Creek to prevent erosion.

SoCal Gas told residents in a letter in October that it “will restore the workspace to as near its original condition and appearance as is reasonably possible.”

Ward and other residents have voiced opposition, saying the project has “filled in Placerita Creek, destroyed the environment and raised the FEMA flood zone by many feet and left it.”

Several homeowners whose homes rest by the creek have said they’re concerned over the potential for increased flooding now that the creek appears nearly flat and almost 4 feet deep rather than the estimated 8 feet it was before the project.

In a letter to Espinoza on March 20, the city asked SoCal Gas to provide the following information: An explanation of the concrete revetment mats’ ability to support the re-establishment of the habitat that existed at the site before the project, and any hydraulic studies the gas company has conducted showing impacts to the floodplain, if any, as a result of the work.

A map of transmission lines, how the feeder lines connect and a list of homes served from the transmission lines crossing Placerita Creek was also asked to be provided.

On April 9, SoCal Gas responded to the three points raised by the city. In the letter, which was signed by Espinoza and addressed to Shannon Pickett, assistant to the city engineer, the spokeswoman said the gas company “is in the process of undertaking a hydraulic analysis focused on the project area and will share the hydraulic analysis with the city once the analysis is complete.”

Pickett was unavailable to comment Tuesday.

To address whether the pipeline work allowed for the return of habitat, the gas company said its concrete revetment mats have “interstitial space between blocks (to allow) for vegetation establishment where plant material can interact with soil substrates, restoring the look of a natural riparian corridor.”

A survey conducted by a biological consultant helped characterize the type of habitat that previously existed, SoCal Gas said. This helped the gas company plant seeds of native plant species, which “will have access to soils captured on top of the mats, as well as soils available between the blocks.”

SoCal Gas said the work it has done, including the survey and monitoring of the site, is per requirements of the Water Quality Control Board. Renee Purdy, assistant executive officer with the board, said, “We’re not able to share a lot of details, but we have been in communication with SoCal Gas and the neighbors in the vicinity of the project. We’ve been to the site several times and are currently evaluating the current status.”

Ward said he and neighbors are keeping a close eye on the matter as “there are seven months until the next rainy season and the next possible flash flood.”

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3 Comments

  1. waterwatcher says:

    SO Cal gas did NOT follow their proposed plans. They were supposed to bury the mat. Instead they placed a very large section on the surface, causing the creek water to back up behind it and flood.

    Everyone understands why the gas line has to be protected, but the creek needs to be protected too. They had an out of state company come in and try to cut corners by laying the mat on top of the creek.

    These utility companies are out of hand, causing fires and leaks when trying to do things on the cheap. Agencies need to make them do the work correctly.

  2. James Crowley says:

    This situation has raised a lot of questions in my mind. First of all, I do not claim to be any expert on flood control or gas line management…just and interested observer. The article indicates Placerita Creek near by homeowners were concerned about flooding claiming the creek was now only 4 feet deep when it used to be 8 feet. Are they confusing depth with width? I don’t recall it being 8 feet deep. I work as a docent at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, about 3 miles above the area of concern. Last fall the creek at that location could be visually observed carrying a tremendous flow of silt and mud from the mountains above, down stream past the The Nature Center and Disney Ranch, more that likely settling in any flat area. Placerita and Golden Oak Lane are such an area. Proof of this is evidenced in the creek bed at a foot bridge in the Placerita Park that appears to have risen about 3-4 feet in silt/mud. This leveling of the creek has widened it in Placerita park and in the area described in the article. Widening of the creek certainly presents the possibility of future flooding by spreading to its sides. I don’t see how placing revetment mats over a pipeline would do anything but raise the creek, causing further silt settling and creek widening. Has anyone dug down to see how deep the gas line is in the creek bed? Seems to me they need to bulldoze the silt out to reestablish a creek bed that will allow a water flow and not a settling basin in the area. However, to do that the Gas Co would need to establish a temporary above ground pipe line while removing the old pipe and settled silt. Then a new gas pipe could be laid in deeper below the creek flow or next to it out of harms way. I would think the residents should address the real problem here. The flow of silt and mud that filled the area. However, the current environmental laws probably forbid changing the current condition back to its original configuration. More common sense and planning needs to be considered.

  3. jim says:

    This is an interesting story, one that raises a lot of questions. Does the SoCaGas line come from the Petroleum and Gas site to the east? If so, it may derive from mineral rights that go back long before the founding of Santa Clarita. Any easements that LA County would have rendered back then are still in force…unless substantive conditions have changed. OR if the City of Santa Clarita had decided to seek changes from SoCaGas in the past 33 years.

    Then again, the good folks of the Placerita Canyon Rd enclave have seen fit to distance themselves from the city by blocking access to Placerita Canyon Rd at the east end of their “territory” with locked gates at the junction with Sierra Hwy.

    As Mr. Crowley notes above, the need for rapid removal of excess surface water (aka down-hill flow) does not exactly match up with a major pipeline owner’s (or contractor’s…) needs to keep an existing pipeline operating within the creek boundaries at no extra cost.

    Good luck, y’all!

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