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Officials to discuss sewer-rate increase

Water: Sanitation District will hear from ratepayers on a proposed increase at meeting in City Hall

Posted: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Directors on the local Sanitation District board want to hear from ratepayers Thursday night on a proposed sewer-rate increase.

The proposed rate hikes have nothing to do with the issue of addressing chloride content in discharged water, Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District officials said Tuesday.

“There’s no money in the rate proposal for chloride,” said Dave Bruns, assistant department head for the district’s financial-management section, which is expected to attend the meeting.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at Santa Clarita City Hall, 23920 Valencia Boulevard.

The district is proposing rate hikes to pay for its day-to-day operations, which include undertaking capital projects such as building a new water-treatment plant.

The district’s cash reserves have been depleted, so rates must be raised to reflect the full cost of services, according to the district’s website.

To minimize the impact, the board has opted to temporarily borrow money from the Capital Improvement Fund. The district anticipates borrowing about $5 million in the upcoming fiscal year 2011-12.

The borrowed money will have to be repaid “with interest” before the next treatment-plant expansions are needed, according to the district.

The ratepayers would pay it back.

Again, this is above and beyond any money raised to reduce chloride.

Removing chloride — a naturally occurring salt — from Santa Clarita Valley’s discharged water became a hotly debated topic last summer, when downstream Ventura County farmers said it was damaging to their crops.

The cost of removing chloride could be $500 million, SCV residents were told. The bill would have to be paid by local water users.

That could skyrocket sewer rates and cripple local businesses, especially those that use lots of water, such as restaurants.

“None of the proposed service charge will be used to fund any chloride-related facilities,” the district’s website states.

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