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Funds filter down to clean up water

Local water agency receives more than $1 million to fight pollution

Posted: March 19, 2009 1:27 a.m.
Updated: March 19, 2009 8:05 a.m.
 
When President Obama signed off on a $410 billion spending bill last week, he kept the money flowing for Castaic Lake Water Agency’s efforts to clean up polluted water here in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Included in the wide-ranging bill is $1.148 million for cleanup at the former Whittaker-Bermite property in the middle of the city.

The water agency has been receiving federal cleanup funding annually for “a number of years,” according to Dan Masnada, general manager of the water agency.

“It’s nothing new but it’s very helpful in at least covering some of the costs,” he said.

For roughly 50 years, the 996-acre site just south of Saugus Speedway was home to munitions manufacturing and testing. That work left behind soil and groundwater pollutants, including perchlorate, a rocket fuel by-product linked to human thyroid problems.

In a sense, Masnada said, it’s appropriate for federal funding to contribute to cleaning up a site where munitions were manufactured for national defense.

The cleanup is expected to last for decades.

The economic downturn has not affected the site’s cleanup because money has been earmarked for the project, thanks in part because Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, “has been very supportive and very effective in Congress,” Masnada said.

The agency is in the home stretch of constructing a water treatment facility in Saugus.

A pipeline is being put in place to pump water from polluted wells near the Whittaker-Bermite site. From there it will travel under Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard and end up at a treatment plant behind Lowe’s at the intersection of Bouquet Canyon and Newhall Ranch roads.

“It will take decades for all that water to be cleaned up,” Masnada said.

Pumping water from polluted sections of the aquifer will prevent spreading of the perchlorate.

“The life of the project isn’t the issue,” Masnada said, “but getting it up and running (is).”

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