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CLWA OKs more consulting funds

• Engineers expertise could help reduce amount of chloride in water system.

Posted: April 25, 2008 3:06 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Money paid to engineering consultants trying to reduce the amount of chloride entering the water system has increased by more than two-thirds at the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

In June, the agency's Board of Directors authorized $150,000 to be paid to Kennedy/Jenks Consultants for general engineering services which includes the agency's handling of chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River.

The agency's Planning and Engineering Committee endorsed a recommendation Thursday night calling for an additional $100,000 - about 67 percent more - to be paid to the consultants because of "the unforeseen magnitude" of its activities, bringing the total cash payout to $250,000.

The extra money would pay for general engineering services related to the agency's Capital Improvement Program.

Topping the list of those improvement concerns is how to reduce, more efficiently, the amount of chloride that enters the Santa Clara River as a byproduct of having treated wastewater.

"There's an effort to try to come up with a cost effective solution with regards to chloride," Dirk S. Marks, the agency's water resources manager, told The Signal before the meeting. "The wastewater gets treated and in the process the chloride gets more concentrated."

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board regulates the amount of chloride allowed to enter a water system such as the Santa Clara River.

"It's not so much a health concern as an agricultural concern," Marks explained. "They're worried about the amount of chloride moving downstream into Ventura County. Avocados and strawberries are particularly sensitive to chloride."

In the preamble to Thursday's tabled recommendation, engineers on the planning committee point out Kennedy/Jenks was paid $150,000 out of the present fiscal budget for "miscellaneous engineering tasks related to capital improvements and undefined capital projects."

In his written submission to the committee Thursday, Engineering and Operations Manager Brian J. Folsom said: "The magnitude of the support provided by K/J has been significantly greater than originally anticipated."

Topping the list of "significant activities" undertaken by the consulting firm was developing an alternative approach for the Total Maximum Daily Load for chloride entering the water system.

The Santa Clara River starts in the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains and travels west across Santa Clarita Valley, into Ventura County, through miles of citrus groves to the Pacific Ocean.

The TMDL has identified wastewater discharges from county sanitation districts and water reclamation plants in Saugus and Valencia as the primary source of chloride in the water.

In June 2004, the water quality board entered into a deal with the sanitation districts to review the scientific data needed to establish a chloride water quality objective, and set a threshold to limit the amount of chloride.

As a result, a TMDL for chloride in the Upper Santa Clara River was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency on May 4, 2005.

A year later, the water quality board revised its implementation schedule, moving benchmarks for chloride levels targeted for 13 years up to 11 years.

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