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City Officials Respond To Fine With Protest Letter

 

Santa Clarita City Council members voted Thursday during a special meeting to send a letter to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, contesting a potential $280,250 fine that Santa Clarita homeowners would have to pay.

The Los Angeles County Regional Water Quality Control Board is threatening to fine the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation Districts because the group did not file the right paperwork regarding the construction of a chloride treatment facility.

The report is in response to the regional board’s request that the Sanitation Districts reduce the level of chloride, or salt, in the water that the SCV sends down the Santa Clara River to the ocean from its current level of about 120 mg/L to 100 mg/L, believed to be the lowest level a county is required to have in the state, according to local district officials.

The letter is meant not only to contest the fine, but ask that requested changes in chloride levels be based on science, said Mayor Bob Kellar.

Current chloride levels are not high enough to damage crops and there have not been many studies on the matter, said Phil Friess of the Sanitation Districts.

“It would be very satisfying to see a process where you see studies done that determine what absolutely needs to happen and not one that’s tougher than needs to be, that’s a perfect world and it’d be perfect to get it,” Friess said.

Methods to reduce levels of chloride in water have been heavily debated since 1978, when the board first set the 100 mg/L chloride standard for the river. Cost estimates of the reduction have been estimated to be upwards of $250 million, but are not possible to guess at this time, Friess said.

The report will discuss different alternatives the Sanitation Districts can do to reach the standard, Councilwoman Marsha McLean said. They want to implement the least expensive means while adhering to what the regional board requires, but until the report is done, there is no way of knowing how much this could cost.

“The environmental impact report needs to happen first, it's a very complex issue and people just keep throwing these figures around where theres no definite knowledge until this report is done,” McLean said.