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Utility: No need to bristle about our brine mines

Local water and gas officials say special sodium-injected mines won’t affect chloride levels

Posted: July 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Local water and gas officials said Thursday the brine-injection wells that are part of stepped-up natural-gas extraction in the Santa Clarita Valley do not affect the levels of salt in the Santa Clara River watershed.

“This naturally occurring zone of nonpotable, saline brine water was deposited millions of years ago, and is significantly deeper than any potable (drinking) water zones that may exist in the area,” said Anne Silva, spokeswoman for the Southern California Gas Company.

Several local residents, including Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, have said they’re concerned that injecting salt into the ground could increase levels of chloride in groundwater.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District has been ordered to reduce the levels of chloride, a naturally occurring salt, in the Santa Clara River.

SoCal Gas plans to double its production and storage of natural gas in the Honor Rancho site between Rye Canyon Road and Interstate 5, north of Newhall Ranch Road.

The gas company’s plans called for creating three new brine-injection wells, which are wells saturated with salt, or sodium chloride.

“When natural gas is withdrawn from the storage field, brine water is also produced along with the natural gas,” Silva said in an email Thursday to The Signal.

“The brine water is removed from the natural gas and then sent through the brine-water injection wells into a naturally occurring brine water zone,” Silva said.

The brine-injection wells — including old ones created locally by the oil industry last century — run at a depth of 10,000 feet to 12,000 feet, gas company reports say.

Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, said the deepest water wells in the Santa Clarita Valley are those that tap into water 2,000 feet underground.

That water is drawn from the Saugus Formation, a natural aquifer that extends below 6,000 feet underground.

One of deepest oil-drilling ventures saw a well dug at Castaic Junction that went to a depth of 19,000 feet, said Masnada.
Brine injection wells that deep, and at depths of 10,000 to 12,000 feet underground, pose no threat of contamination to the Saugus Formation, he said.


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