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Public to weigh in on chloride

Plan to be presented to district ratepayers Monday; grant funding could be available

Posted: October 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Companies eyeing Santa Clarita as a possible location to set up shop could receive special financing for sewer hookup fees, which will increase if Santa Clarita Valley residents agree to a plan to reduce chloride discharge into the Santa Clara River.

“We have to look at what mechanisms are in place for financing when we look at certain businesses opening up here,” said Laurene Weste, one of three members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District, during a Signal Editorial Board meeting on Thursday.

Although she didn’t name which ones she hoped to tap, Weste said she was confident both state and federal grants would also be available.

“They’re out there,” she said. “I am committed to getting the lowest possible cost.”

The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce last week unanimously endorsed the chloride-reduction plan being recommended by the Sanitation District, said Terri K. Crain, president and CEO of the Chamber.

The Sanitation District board — which includes Santa Clarita City Council members Weste and Bob Kellar, as well as Supervisor Michael Antonovich — has scheduled a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Santa Clarita City Hall at which it will present to district ratepayers the selected plan for chloride reduction in the river.

The district has been ordered to reduce chloride in wastewater discharged into the river or face steep penalties that could result in millions of dollars in fines, which would be paid for by sewer system users. The plan to be presented Monday follows years of study.

It could cost single-family sewage-system users in the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District from $125 to $265 a year, depending on the alternative chosen. Business rates could double, especially for high-water-use industries such as restaurants and laundromats.

Sewer hookup fees for new construction would also increase and would most affect new high-water-usage businesses such as restaurants and laundromats.

Those fees would be spread over decades, would affect only businesses opening in new buildings, and could be offset by financial assistance, Sanitation District officials said.

District officials selected Option 4, the least costly chloride-removal plan — and the most costly — from among four initially presented in April. Option 4 offers two phases; the first phase would be the least costly, but Phase 2, should it prove necessary, would become the most costly of the four plans.

The sewer hookup rate for a single-family home in 2019-20 would be $6,560 under the first phase of the chloride-reduction plan chosen by the district and $7,725 under the second phase.

The same hookup for a restaurant in 2019-20 would be $45,198 under the first phase and $91,120 for the second phase.

Sanitation District officials said during Thursday’s meeting they were confident they would be able to meet state mandates for chloride levels in the river without triggering Phase 2.

The Chamber board’s vote urged “the Sanitation District (to) work closely with the regional board regarding the appropriate triggers that don’t unnecessarily or prematurely trigger Phase 2.”

The plan, if approved by the Sanitation District board, would go to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which must provide final approval before it can be adopted.

The public gets a chance to weigh in on the chloride debate at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Santa Clarita City Hall.
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