Valencia Water Company today notified the Whittaker Bermite property owners that it will seek remediation funds to clean up a closed well near Santa Clarita City Hall following routine water quality testing that detected low levels of perchlorate.
The remediation funds are being sought under a 2007 settlement agreement among Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA), Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company and Whittaker Corporation and others to address clean-up of impacted wells from the former munitions site.
In August 2010, Valencia Water Company detected perchlorate in Well 201 near City Hall. Although the perchlorate levels were within safe drinking water standards, the company immediately took the well out of service and notified the State Department of Public Health. Valencia Water Company continued to monitor the inactive well on a monthly basis. The most recent sample confirmed that perchlorate is still present and that wellhead treatment is needed as outlined by the settlement agreement with Whittaker Bermite.
“Our diligence in conducting extensive testing enabled us to quickly shut down the well and continue to provide safe water to our customers,” said Keith Abercrombie, General Manager for Valencia Water Company. “The removal of this well from service will not have any near-term or long-term impacts on the quality or cost of water to our customers.”
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CLWA General Manager Dan Masnada said, “The closing of this well will not impact the Santa Clarita Valley Family of Water Suppliers' ability to adequately provide water to our customers and will not have a negative impact on the Valley’s water supply. CLWA and the water retailers continue to ensure that all drinking water quality standards are met and long-term solutions are put in place to address the presence of perchlorate in small portions of the Valley’s groundwater aquifers.
“In addition, a pending update of the 2010 Santa Clarita Valley Urban Water Management Plan will examine the presence of perchlorate in Well 201,” Masnada said.
Valencia Water Company works cooperatively with and as a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Family of Water Suppliers to provide customers a mix of groundwater pumped from area wells and imported state water. In April 2007, the local water suppliers and the Whittaker Bermite property owners negotiated a settlement, which establishes funding to address the clean-up of perchlorate from the former munitions site.
Last year, a $13 million treatment facility near Bouquet Canyon Road and the Santa Clara River came on line to treat perchlorate in groundwater emanating from the Whittaker Bermite property. That treatment facility is part of a larger program that includes the restoration of two perchlorate-impacted wells to extract contaminated groundwater and control the migration of perchlorate in the Saugus Formation aquifer. The cost of that “pump and treat” system is also covered under the settlement agreement that protects the public from paying for the remediation costs.
As part of the settlement, several wells were identified as potentially threatened by perchlorate, including Well 201. Thus, while the now-operational pump and treatment program is intended to control migration of perchlorate, the possibility of further contamination in the direction of groundwater flow was recognized before its installation, and provisions were incorporated in the program to treat any additional wells impacted by perchlorate.
Initial operation of the pump and treatment remediation is functioning as planned, and is still applicable for both of its objectives – to control contaminant migration near the source and to extract perchlorate from the aquifer system. In short, the detection of perchlorate at Well 201 does not reflect any change in the anticipated long-term effectiveness of the containment and treatment remedy.
Prior impacted wells included Q2, a Valencia Water Company well that underwent successful wellhead treatment in 2005 utilizing the same treatment technology contemplated for Well 201, and today has no perchlorate detection.
Since 1997, seven wells in the Santa Clarita Valley, including this most recent one, have been impacted by perchlorate. Three of those wells have been successfully treated and returned to service, two have been replaced, one is planned to be replaced and this most recent well will have treatment installed.
Perchlorate is a regulated drinking water contaminant in California with a maximum contaminant level (mcl) of 6 parts per billion (ppb). The Valencia Water Company test in August 2010 was 5 ppb. During the last several months, readings have varied from 5 to 12 ppb in the most recent test.
Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made ion used to form a variety of salts. Perchlorate is primarily used today as an oxidizer in solid rocket fuel and other propellants and to a lesser extent, in fireworks, explosives and air-bag inflators.
It is highly soluble in water and has been detected in ground and surface water in 26 states. It has also been detected in water supplies in close proximity to sites where solid rocket fuel was manufactured or used, such as the Whittaker Bermite site.
Valencia Water Company is a water provider to 113,000 residential, commercial, industrial and business customers in Valencia, Stevenson Ranch and portions of Saugus and Castaic.