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Boydston challenges chloride data

Councilman, speaking as private citizen, calls science behind chloride plan a 'scam'

Posted: May 16, 2013 10:40 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2013 10:40 a.m.

Santa Clarita City Councilman TimBen Boydston called the whole issue of chloride cleanup a scam Wednesday night after local sanitation officials presented their plan for reducing how much of the salty compound the sanitation district discharges into the Santa Clara River.

“I’ve been fighting this scam for five years,” said Boydston, speaking as a civilian.

“I’m curious about where the strawberry crops are that we are harming,” he said, referring to Ventura County farmers downstream.

Farmers of salt-sensitive crops such as strawberries and avocados are considered by state water regulators to be “beneficial users” of water in the Santa Clara River.

As such, they are protected under state and federal laws to receive uncontaminated water, including water not contaminated by salty sodium chloride in the natural water of the Santa Clara River.

Nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards throughout the state enforce those laws. It was the Los Angeles board that fined the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District $225,000 in November for having failed to meet the obligations of its permit to discharge chloride into the Santa Clara River.

Under terms of the permit, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District is ordered to reduce chloride levels in discharged water to 100 milligrams per liter of water.

On Wednesday, local sanitation officials held their second of three Santa Clarita Valley public information meetings, this one in Saugus at Rosedell Elementary School. The three public information meetings will be followed by three public hearings - all on the issue of a chloride-reduction plan the sanitation district officials hope residents will approve.

The cost of chloride reduction could be some $200 a year increase on residents' sewer bills; it could double the cost of sewer service for restaurants and other high-water-use businesses.

During the first meeting on the plan held in Castaic on Tuesday, a sparse crowd of about a dozen civilians showed up.

Their follow-up meeting in Saugus elicited the same sparse turnout — less than a dozen interested parties.

District spokesman Phil Friess answered Boydston’s question, saying: “Based on what I know, I don’t believe the crops are being harmed.”

Boydston continued to challenge district officials about the fundamental premise on which the chloride debate hinges — the scientific data which dictates what concentration of chloride in the water is detrimental to salt-sensitive crops.

“What I have here,” he said patting an open binder he placed on the public comment podium, “is the study which is part of the fantasy called ‘the science.’”

To verify the veracity of the binder and its contents, Boydston showed the binder to Friess, who said he recognized the document.

Boydston continued to rail against the findings of the sanitation district.

In reading from the document, he said: “We were unable to determine an appropriate threshold for chloride (concentration in water).”

Through meetings such as the one held Tuesday night, sanitation officials are hoping the public will help them choose one of four chloride-removal options they’ve devised.

The district is expected to comply with state mandates for discharged chloride into the Santa Clara River so that the concentration does not exceed 100 milligrams of chloride per liter of natural river water.

If they fail to adopt a plan for compliance by Oct. 31 then the state is expected to issue more fines.

Boydston cited chloride concentration levels expected by each of the other regional water boards in California, noting that Santa Clarita Valley's is set with the lowest expectation.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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