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Marsha McLean: What to do with the wastewater-rate increase

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Posted: July 20, 2010 5:34 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.

I’d like to thank Assemblyman Cameron Smyth for his July 13 column (“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”), which hit the nail on the head.

Residents are facing a very large rate increase for sewer fees due to no fault of their own.

For years, our city staff and I have testified before the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to try and have it understand where the water comes from and the condition the water is in before it reaches Santa Clarita.

Our City Council and staff have been in numerous meetings with the water board and have gained some concessions. The fact is that most of the water we receive is already filled with chlorides.

However, at this point in time, we are in complete compliance with the limits of 117 milligrams per liter. This is due mostly to the removal of residential salt-based water-softening units in our city. It is only in drought years — along with the salty water we receive from the state mixed with our ground water — that the levels climb.

The scientific studies to determine if, in fact, the water that Ventura, Oxnard and downstream cities receive harms their avocado and strawberry crops was halted before it was completed. That makes no sense to me.

Moreover, I am sure it makes no sense to the residents who are being asked to foot the bill to provide cleaner water downstream, when it has not been scientifically proven cleaner water is needed. 

Every property owner in Santa Clarita has received a yellow envelope from the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District. It states on the envelope clearly that it is an “Official Document: Prop. 218 Notice & Protest Procedure.” If you have received it, you may either do nothing, implying that you agree with the rate increase, or sign and send it in with the protest form at the bottom of page three. A return envelope with the Sanitation District address has been included.

This must be done before the public hearing on July 27. You may also bring it to the Santa Clarita City Hall if you attend the public meeting. If you have lost or misplaced the protest form, you may go to the city’s website,, and look for the link that will take you to the Sanitation District website, or go directly to For more information, you may contact the Sanitation District at (800) 388-4602.

One thing that needs to be made clear is that the city of Santa Clarita is not imposing the higher fees. It is the Regional Water Quality Control boards that hand down unfunded mandates to local entities such as the sanitation districts and cities.

The latter is one reason why I am actively involved with the state League of California Cities. The League consists of 480 California cities all working for one goal, and that is to protect the sanctity of local control. I am a member of the board of directors of the state League and will be working to bring awareness of our problem and asking for help in providing a solution. I may be reached at (661) 255-4311. 

Marsha McLean is a Newhall resident and member of the Santa Clarita City Council. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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