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CORRECTION: Petition offers yet another chloride option

Corrects amount that could be added to residents' sewer fees due to chloride solution

Posted: June 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley residents will have a chance to challenge a proposal to reduce salt in the Santa Clara River, even if such a plan is selected by local sanitation district officials and approved by regional water quality ones, The Signal has learned.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District has held two public hearings on the choices offered to sewer users — one of four plans that would hike sewer costs for single-family homes an estimated $125 to $265 a year. One more such hearing is scheduled Thursday.
After that, sanitation district officials are expected to use the public comments to pick one of four chloride-removal options and present it to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The goal, according to the board, is to meet chloride levels of 100 milligrams per meter in Santa Clara River water flowing downstream to farmers in Ventura County.
The deadline is Oct. 31 to present a plan or face more fines from the Water Quality Control Board. The board fined the district $225,000 last November — a fine that sewer users will have to pay off.
But even if a plan is selected by the sanitation district and approved by the water board, residents will have an option, a state water official said last week.
If a community wants to challenge a decision made by the regional water board — such as arguing the decision to accept the level of chloride contamination in the Santa Clara River — it can file a petition, said George Kostyrko, spokesman for the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento.
“If and when the state water board receives a petition challenging the recently adopted permit, the office of chief counsel will evaluate the petition for compliance with the state water board’s petition regulations,” Kostyrko said Thursday.
The regional water board is then given a chance to respond to the petition, he said. Once state officials deem the petition “complete,” they start a 270-day clock for the state water board to review the petition.
Technical and legal staff then review the arguments, supporting records and applicable laws/regulations to make a recommendation to the executive director, Kostyrko said.
The executive director may dismiss the petition if it fails to raise substantial issues appropriate for state water board review, he said, or he may recommend that the board review and issue an order on all or some of the issues raised in the petition.
Regulation of water quality in California is overseen by a series of nine boards appointed to different regions of the state. The boards report to the State Water Resources Control Board.
The Santa Clarita Valley falls under the Los Angeles region, and the board for that region has ordered sewer-users here to reduce chloride — a naturally occurring ion found in common table salt — to 100 milligrams per liter where the Santa Clara River leaves the Santa Clarita Valley.
Sewage from Santa Clarita Valley homes and businesses is treated at one of two plants, and the water is then released into the river. Farmers downstream say they need the chloride level reduced for their crops.
Local residents have considerably reduced their chloride output by getting rid of water softeners that discharge salt into the sewer system. But the level remains slightly above 100 mg/l most wet months and climbs higher during dry months.
The current round of chloride-reduction debates was preceded in 2010 when a plan was under consideration that could cost Santa Clarita Valley sewer users some $200 million to $500 million. That proposal drew an outraged populace to a jammed City Hall public hearing on July 27, 2010, which resulted in the sanitation district tabling the plan all together.
Sanitation district officials proposed the current plan in April.
Attendance at public meetings and hearings on this plan has been considerably less heated and more sparse. Some 30 people turned out for the first public hearing last Tuesday.
Under the four options offered in the current chloride-reduction plan, single-family home owners could see their yearly sewer fees go up $125 to $265 on average. But businesses could be harder hit, especially those that use large quantities of water. Restaurants, for example, could see their sewer fees double.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

Final public hearing on chloride-reduction plan is scheduled Thursday, June 13, 7 p.m., Sulphur Springs Elementary School, 16628 Lost Canyon Road, Canyon Country
Plan is available for review at Valencia, Newhall and Canyon Country city libraries, at Stevenson Ranch and Castaic county libraries, and on the first floor of Santa Clarita City Hall.
It is also available at



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