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SCV Sanitation District may take up state denial at meeting Wednesday

Posted: February 11, 2014 7:12 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2014 7:12 p.m.

Local sanitation officials are meeting with lawyers behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss the recent decision by state officials not to reimburse them for costs associated with reducing chloride contamination of the Santa Clara River.

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board, which includes Councilman Bob Kellar and Mayor Laurene Weste, are scheduled to attend a special meeting in Whittier on Wednesday.

And, while half a dozen of the agenda items address routine sanitation matters such as paying for daily operational costs, the last item on the agenda deals with the costs associated with reducing chloride contamination in the river.

The closed-door session is slated to address “existing litigation regarding Upper Santa Clara River Chloride Total Maximum Daily Load.”

The Total Maximum Daily Load is the amount of chloride allowed by the state to be discharged into the Santa Clara River by the Sanitation District.

On Oct. 29, after years of wrangling over the best way to reduce the amount of the salty compound ending up in the river, local water experts, environmentalists, and business and civic leaders rallied behind a plan to bury chloride deep beneath the Santa Clarita Valley.

They urged the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board to move forward with a plan calling for chloride discharged by the sanitation district to be removed by reverse osmosis technology, then buried deep underground. The board concurred.

With a solution to the chloride problem chosen, district officials tried to recoup money spent meeting the state’s water demands.

On Jan. 24, however, a state commission denied their claim that the state-mandated chloride limit for recycled water discharged into the Santa Clara River is unfunded and reimbursable under the state Constitution.

The Sanitation District filed the reimbursement claim with the Commission on State Mandates on March 31, 2011, to protect local homeowners and businesses from having to pay for injecting chloride under ground.

Under the California Constitution, whenever the Legislature or any state agency mandates a new program or higher level of service on a local government, the state must reimburse the associated costs — with certain exceptions. The Commission on State Mandates said meeting acceptable chloride levels did not qualify for state reimbursement in part because the Sanitation District can impose the costs on its ratepayers.

District officials would not say what action the district is likely to take Wednesday, if any. But spokesman Ray Tremblay said, “It is within the district’s statutory rights to file a petition for writ of mandate or file a lawsuit.”

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District meets at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the county Sanitation Districts offices at 1955 Workman Mill Road in Whittier.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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