View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


A lack of SCV resident participation

Posted: October 22, 2008 9:47 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

For many years, water agencies used polluted water from wells contaminated with ammonium perchlorate to calculate the water supply for new development in Santa Clarita. After a successful lawsuit by the Sierra Club and the Friends of the Santa Clara River, Castaic Lake Water Agency had to disclose the quantity of polluted water and when it would be cleaned up. Of course, future projections do not always pan out. Development has proceeded, but the clean-up facilities are still not operating.

Why? Because things go wrong with big engineering projects. They are delayed, funding may not come in as planned, an untried process may not work as predicted. So now, in addition to having more houses, we also have a drought that is cutting back our water supplies from Northern California.

Dick Marks of the Castaic Lake Water Agency was right when he stated in a recent article that the polluted water is not currently being served to customers. And SCOPE wants to make sure that it never will be.

Unfortunately, even the State Health Department. can allow "blending" of polluted water with clean water to bring the contaminants below the danger levels set by the state. Without the completion of the additional water treatment facilities to remove the ammonium perchlorate, and with the continuation of the drought in California, this is exactly what may happen here.

Is there enough water?
Recently while testifying under oath before the county Board of Supervisors regarding new development, water agency representatives have stated that even in drought years, there is plenty of water for new development in Santa Clarita.

According to the Southern California Associated Governments, there are 80,000 dwelling units in the Santa Clarita Valley as of 2008- 57,000 in the city and 23,000 in the county. Another 42,000 dwelling units have received land use approval- 36,000 in the county and 6,000 in the city. Several thousand more dwelling units were the subject of pending land use applications. Many of those have now been approved.

These units cannot be approved unless the water agencies state that there is an adequate supply to serve them.

But upon reviewing the Urban Water Management Plan (online at, it is immediately apparent that the existing residents must cut back their water usage to provide this water for new development. And we will have an even greater water shortage if the perchlorate treatment facility continues to be delayed.
This brings us to the subject of the Vanishing CAG. "CAG" stands for "Citizens Advisory Group" and is a process by which the community can become involved in the oversight of this contaminated industrial property. One was formed many years ago for the Whittaker-Bermite Remediation Project. The group meetings are intended to inform the public regarding the clean up of some 200 plus toxic chemicals on the Whittiker-Bermite site.

Disappearing CAG
The city of Santa Clarita does hold a Whittaker-Bermite Remediation Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force meeting that is open to the public. But the CAG, the citizen's oversight group, has disappeared.

Is there a difference? Yes, the list of participants for the Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force does not include the public. It is just open to the public. The CAG meeting is for the public.

I have attended both of these meetings for years, taking off work when I worked in Los Angeles. Over the years the time for these meeting have changed from the evening to early afternoon. The only way the public can attend is by taking time off from work.

Unlike Simi Valley's CAG, where the community is actively involved in oversight of the Rocketdyne cleanup, the attendance at our meetings has reached the point where not even the chairperson of the CAG has been attending.

Is it because the meeting is scheduled in the afternoon?

The cleanup of the Whittaker-Bermite site has reached a time when some very important decisions affecting our city will be made. These decisions will involve both the clean up of our water supply and the clean up of the soil at the Whittiker-Bermite site.

The Department of Toxic Substance Control (the state regulatory agency overseeing the site cleanup) has offered to hold the CAG meetings in the evening so that the public can be informed and have better access to the meetings.

We urge the DTSC to once again hold these CAG meetings at a time when the community can attend. And we urge members of the community to become involved in this important process going on in our own backyard.

Cam Noltemeyer is a SCOPE Board Member. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...