Watershead, Fall 2010
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Santa Clarita Rejects Plan To Cut Chloride Discharges

FSCR worked as a partner, over a period of two years, with the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, United Water Conservation District, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Ventura County Farm Bureau, in crafting a 2008 plan to eliminate excess chloride levels in the Santa Clara River. The Saugus and Valencia waste water treatment plants in Santa Clarita are the primary sources of these chlorides. Although apparently not harmful to aquatic life, high chloride levels can adversely affect several farm products grown in Ventura County, including strawberries, avocados and nursery plants.

This plan, termed the Alternative Water Resource Management Plan, would require construction of a new reverse osmosis desalination facility at the Valencia plant, in combination with new wells near Piru for blending the Valencia high-quality water with lower-quality groundwater. This blended water would then be piped downstream and dumped into the river near the Fillmore Fish Hatchery, where it would have a diluting effect on the total river flow. The overall effect would be the reduction of river chlorides to levels that would be safe for crops.

However, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District's board has now voted against the sewer rate increase that would fund studies of the project. Two members of the sanitation board, who are also members of the city council, have argued that Santa Clarita has done enough by getting rid of most of the city's salt-discharging water softeners. Even if softeners are eliminated, however, Santa Clarita imports water from the state in drought years that results in chloride discharge levels that exceed allowable limits.

If Santa Clarita does not soon reverse its actions and move forward under the previously agreed plan, heavy daily fines could be imposed by the Regional Board.

FSCR urges the Santa Clarita Sanitation District to approve the needed rate increases, which are modest, and live up to its obligations in reducing chlorides in the Santa Clara River.


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