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Wastewater Issue Still Boiling Tempers

Call it a sewer tax, or a wastewater service charge, it’s still something that Santa Claritans are up in arms about.

 

On Tuesday afternoon, three elected officials will vote on whether or not to approve a rate hike to support the construction of a  desalination plant to clean up water passing through the Santa Clarita Valley. The hike proposed could raise sanitation fees by $384 a year. Tuesday is the public’s only chance to protest the hike and voice their opinions.

 

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District, run by Los Angeles County, is proposing a rate increase that would triple what property owners pay to finance the construction of a large scale advanced treatment and brine disposal facility at the cost of at least $250 million.

 

The proposed plant would desalinate water received from the State Water Project so it would be suitable for agricultural needs in Ventura County (where our water goes after it comes here) as well as being less toxic to endangered species in the area.

 

Initially, the project’s costs were estimated at $500 million, but after negotiations, they were cut in half. Part of this reduction was the requirement that automatic water softeners be removed from all water systems in our valley. Taking salt-based softeners out of the system helped decrease the amount of salt in the water passed on from the state water project to Ventura County, but further desalination is needed to meet the requirements set by the Federal Clean Water Act and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

 

According to the County Sanitation District’s website, “The major sources of chloride in the Sanitation District’s recycled water include water imported from Northern California, residential automatic water softener use, commercial, industrial and other residential sources and the disinfection process at the water reclamation plants.”

 

Currently the service charge rate for a single-family home is $14.92 a month. The proposed hike would raise the rate to $17.92 in 2010, $21.50 in 2011 and $25.75 in 2012. The recommendation before the local sanitation district representatives (Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry, Councilwoman Laurene Weste and County Supervisor Don Knabe) is to raise rate for only three years, although the projected needs of the plan call for additional increases over the following four years, bringing the monthly cost for a single-family home to $47.00. That’s an increase of $32.08 a month or nearly $384 a year.

 

The public meeting is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, in the Council Chambers of Santa Clarita City Hall. Those who cannot attend the meeting are encouraged to express their opinions via letters or e-mails sent to Mayor Frank Ferry (fferry@santa-clarita.com) or Councilwoman Laurene Weste (lweste@santa-clarita.com), 24920 Valencia Blvd., Suite 300, Santa Clarita, CA 91355.

 

See previous stories about this issue here and here .

 

Councilwoman Weste will be a guest on “Something To Talk About,” KHTS’s news show at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 26. Listen at AM1220 or live-stream at hometownstation.com.