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Chloride option resurrected

Most of plan presented three years ago brought back to table, but would include a phased implementat

Posted: October 6, 2013 9:16 a.m.
Updated: October 6, 2013 9:16 a.m.

By Jim Holt

Signal Senior Staff Writer


With a deadline looming for a plan to reduce chloride levels in the Santa Clara River, some local water officials are pursuing an option that was rejected by Santa Clarita Valley ratepayers three years ago, The Signal has learned.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board has until Oct. 31 to present a chloride-reducing plan to state water officials or risk another fine due to non-compliance with water quality laws.

Sanitation district officials presented four options in April to residents — who will eventually foot the bill for the chloride-cleanup through higher sewer rates. And a few weeks ago they told The Signal no decision had been made.

“It’s still too early for sanitation district staff to provide comment on a preferred alternative,” spokesman Basil Hewitt said in mid-September.

But it was clear back in April which of the four choices was preferred.

On page ES-11 of their inch-thick report called “The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Draft Chloride Compliance Facilities Plan and Environmental Impact Report,” district officials state: “Alternative 4, Phased AWRM Phase 1, was the highest ranked alternative.”

AWRM, which insiders pronounce “a-worm,” is short for the Alternative Water Resource Management Plan that was hammered out by upstream and downstream water users in 2008 and proposed to ratepayers — who rejected it — in 2010.

The current version has a few differences, the main one being that it would be implemented in two phases. The first phase — if sufficient to reduce chloride to acceptable levels — would cost ratepayers the least amount of money, about $125 more a year per single-family home.

But if Phase 1 proved insufficient to drop chloride to acceptable levels, Phase 2 would kick in. And it’s the most costly of the four choices, about $265 more a year per single-family home.

Whether or not Phase 2 kicks in would largely depend on whether California passes the Bay Delta Conveyance Project, which aims to clean up State Water Project water that heads south from Northern California.

About 50 percent of Santa Clarita Valley tap water is from the State Water Project, which is provided to the valley by the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

That water wholesaler has spent $90,000 since July 2012 on consultant fees to support the Phased AWRM plan and set aside another $60,000 in August to continue the push in favor of Alternative 4 to clean up Santa Clara River chloride.

“We continue to work with sanitation district staff, United Water Conservation District and the other stakeholders to refine the Phased AWRM program elements that will be presented to the sanitation district board for its consideration,” said agency General Manager Dan Masnada.

In an Aug. 20 memo proposing the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s latest $60,000 expenditure, Water Resources Manager Dirk Marks says the Phased AWRM option “would have both water quality and water resource benefits relative to the other alternatives evaluated.

“This program is expected to be less expensive and better integrating overall water management than an end-of-pipe treatment compliance alternative,” he wrote in the memo, which adds, “The agency, in cooperation with the city of Santa Clarita, has agreed to perform these additional evaluations.”

The sanitation district is expected to release its recommendation for the chloride-reduction plan as early as Friday. The plan goes to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board for approval.

The next meeting of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board of directors was scheduled for Wednesday in Whittier, but it has been canceled.


on Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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