Governor signs Senate Bill 475 to reduce salt in wastewater
SACRAMENTO—Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 475 late Friday afternoon giving the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District (District) a new tool to reduce chloride in wastewater, which may keep Santa Clarita Valley sewer rates lower. The District will also provide a new rebate offering reasonable value for voluntary removal of automatic water softeners.
“Our enhanced rebate program will motivate residents to unplug and take personal responsibility for protecting their environment,” said Jim Stahl, general manager for the District. “By the Governor signing Senate Bill 475, he gives Santa Clarita Valley residents an opportunity to vote to require the removal of each and every automatic water softener. Removal of every unit would be a greener way to solve the chloride issue – protecting both the river and it’s habitat as well as air quality and a quality of life for Valley residents.”
As part of the bill, the District will launch a new rebate program early next year to compensate automatic water softener owners for 100 percent of the reasonable value of a unit as well as for the cost of removal and disposal of the unit. Residents are encouraged to unplug immediately, as only 75 percent of reasonable value will be compensated once the ban goes into effect. Residents who applied this year for the current rebate, $100 for removal or $150 for removal and replacement with a qualified alternative, or who submit an application prior to the new program’s start date also will be eligible for the new rebate. Residents who qualify can pre-register now for the new rebate on the District’s website at www.lacsd.org/chloride .
“The City of Santa Clarita and the District have long worked together to encourage residents to unplug and remove their automatic water softeners,” said Santa Clarita Mayor and District Chair Laurene Weste. “I am confident that this new rebate program will provide the additional incentive for all Santa Clarita water softener owners to unplug, and help the community clean up the Santa Clara River.”
Automatic water softeners discharge a salty waste into the sewer system which goes through a water treatment process and is released into the Santa Clara River. Though reclaimed water from the District’s two treatment plants meets drinking water standards, the plants do not remove salt. Once the reclaimed water enters the Santa Clara River, it can pose potential problems for downstream agricultural crops if chloride levels are too high. Removing all automatic water softeners would be a major step in the battle against chloride and while some additional compliance measures may still be necessary, costs to the community should be much lower than the $350 million projected to build a reverse osmosis treatment plant. The new rebate program is the most economical way to protect the river.
“SB 475 creates an expanded program to encourage the removal of water softeners in order to achieve compliance with state mandates in the most economical way,” said Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley). The legislation is designed to protect the citizens from 400% wastewater rate increases. Finally, it involves the people of Santa Clarita in the decision-making process.”
The installation of new automatic water softeners—the kind to which salt or potassium chloride pellets are added—has been banned since 2003. However an estimated 6,500 units, representing one in 11 households, continue to be used in the Santa Clarita Valley. Residential automatic water softeners account for 35 percent of all chloride contributions, the largest source of chloride other than tap water. Business and industrial automatic water softeners have been banned since the 1960s. The new rebate program will compensate automatic water softener owners who purchased the units before the 2003 ban.
The District serves the wastewater management needs of the Santa Clarita Valley. The role of the District is to construct, operate, and maintain a regional system to collect, treat, recycle and dispose of wastewater. The Directors of the District are the mayor and a designated City Council member of Santa Clarita and the Chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
For more information on automatic water softeners, rebates and alternatives please see the District’s web site at www.lacsd.org/chloride  or call 1-877-CUT-SALT.