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Local Water Cleanup System Unveiled

clwa_prechloritetratmentWater agencies celebrate the prospect of more local water.

Tuesday afternoon, the Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) celebrated the near completion of a water treatment system that will help to bring Santa Clarita's groundwater supplies back to normal.

Perchlorate contamination forced the closure of several wells near the Whittaker-Bermite area one decade ago. Since then, CLWA has been working to figure out a way to clean up the water.

"The project is about cleaning up contaminated groundwater...contamination that was discovered in 1997," said Peter Kavounas, Vice President of the CLWA Board of Directors. "We worked diligently over the last 12 years to develop the technology, and we also worked with those that were responsible for the pollution to fund this facility so we can again use local groundwater and not have to depend on imported water as much."

The answer to that challenge comes in the form of an ion exchange process, similar to how water softeners work. The water is pumped in, treated, and pumped out for use by Santa Clarita valley residents. The resulting water product benefits from undetectable levels of perchlorate, deemed safe by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

One might remember that over the last year CLWA has been working overnight on Valencia Blvd. That project installed a pipeline underneath the roadway, which brings the contaminated water from the closed wells to the treatment facility, located on Bouquet Canyon Rd. next to Lowes.

Aside from bringing more groundwater back into the local supplies, the project also included the drilling of two additional wells, with plans for two more. Overall, Kavounas said that has had a big affect on the consumer.

"This means greater reliability, more drought-proofing, and at the end of the day it's going to mean cheaper water for everyone," he said.

At the time of its discovery, perchlorate contamination had not been extensively researched by health officials or water agencies. According to Mayor pro Tem Laurene Weste, the battle to develop a treatment for the water and to isolate funding for the cleanup blazed trails in the industry. She praised their action and called it "gutsy." Assemblyman Cameron Smyth echoed her thoughts, saying that the facility will serve as an example for other areas that face similar perchlorate contamination.