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Public weighs in on chloride-reduction plan

Posted: October 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Audience members, including City Councilman TimBen Boydston (front left), raise their hands in silent applause for a point made during a Board of Directors meeting addressing chloride level compliance at City Hall on Tuesday. Photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Local sanitation officials unveiled their plan Monday for reducing chloride ending up in the Santa Clara River, explaining its effectiveness to a skeptical and suspicious audience.

At a meeting of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District, Tom LeBrun, spokesman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District, explained to a packed room the district’s chloride-reducing plan, officially called the Final Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Chloride Compliance Facilities Plan and Environmental Impact Report.

LeBrun showed how the district would pursue implementing Option 4 of the four alternatives they presented to the public this past summer, called the two-phased “Alternative Water Resources Management Plan.”

If Phase 1 of the “Phased Alternative Water Resources Management Plan” sufficiently reduces the level of chloride in treated wastewater released into the river, the more costly Phase 2 can be avoided, he explained.

What concerned many people who addressed the three-member sanitation board was the lack of a defined trigger mechanism defined by the district by which state regulators would gauge the effectiveness of Option 4’s cheaper first phase.

If regulators — the Los Angeles County Regional Water Quality Control Board — ruled against the cheaper Phase 1 then the more costly second phase would kick in.

Grace Robinson Chan, the district’s chief engineer and general manager, assured critics: “We would not proceed with the phased AWRM if we cannot get trigger language defined.”

Board member, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, elicited the loudest applause of the night when he dragged the chloride debate back to basics, questioning the state’s responsibility in “cleaning up” the water it sends the Santa Clarita Valley via agreements under the State Water Project.

“Is the state going to give Santa Clarita credit in cleaning up water received from the state through the State Water Project?” Antonovich asked LeBrun.

LeBrun: “The short answer is no.”

But, Antonovich hammered at the state for its role in the regional chloride debate.

BJ Atkins, vice president of the Newhall County Water District, speaking as an individual said: “I would like to see a coalition of watershed stakeholders from here to the ocean.”

Pasadena lawyer Robert P. Silverstein, representing an environmental coalition opposed to Option 4, said the district failed to include a full range of options in devising its plan.

“This EIR is inadequate and fails because it does not examine all the alternatives,” he said.

Santa Clarita City Councilman TimBen Boydston, speaking as a citizen, called Option 4 a boondoggle and an unwarranted salt scam.
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