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Debate Continues Over Wastewater Rate Issue

khts_citymatters_scvlogoThough discussion on proposed wastewater rate increases have been postponed till spring, there is now talk of the plan backfiring, causing ratepayers to eventually spend more than proposed.

Since the plans to hike rates on wastewater were shot down, the Sanitation District is now exploring the option to borrow money from an existing fund of fees from new sewer hookups.

The problem lies in the fact that the money borrowed from the fund must be replaced.

John Gulledge, department head in charge of financial planning for the Sanitation District said, “We are allowed to borrow from the capital improvement fund but it will result in ratepayers repaying that money, plus interest.”

The level of chloride in our water coming downstream is another hot issue concerning many. Considering that the idea to fund a reverse osmosis plant that will solve our chloride problems was dismissed, other ideas are being looked upon.


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Mayor Laurene Weste suggested a peripheral canal as a solution to chloride level issues on Tuesday night’s public hearing. A peripheral canal is meant to divert water from Sacramento River through the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and transfer water to be pumped to Central and Southern California. The cost for a peripheral canal could cost up to $50 billion.

Lynne Plambeck, President of the group Santa Clarita Organization for Planning The Environment, does not believe a peripheral canal would be a solution to the chloride level problems.

“It is not a useful way to address our current problem. It is just one more way to delay the problem before us,” she said.

Gulledge believes differently “If the peripheral canal were to be in place, the chloride levels would be substantially less than what is currently being received. The potential for this project to move forward is anyone’s guess.”

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth is also concerned with chloride levels, “The state needs to address the problem of chloride that enters the water before it ever reaches Santa Clarita. Requiring all upstream users to monitor their chloride levels is the most sensible solution, and should be pursued before we even consider increasing rates.”

These ideas are expected to be of much debate from now until spring when the discussion comes back into view.

As for the Ventura County farmers, where  possible litigation may be involved, Plambeck believes the blame should not be on them but rather on us.

“This idea that we would be so uncaring of their way of life is startling to me.”