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State says it won't pay for Santa Clara River chloride removal

Commission declines to classify $130 million expense an 'unfunded mandate'

Posted: January 25, 2014 1:01 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2014 1:01 p.m.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District lost a bid Friday to have the costs of removing chloride from the Santa Clara River declared an unfunded mandate that would be subject to state reimbursement.

The Commission on State Mandates ruled on the Sanitation District’s claim during a hearing in Sacramento at which Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste and Assembly Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, both argued that the order to reduce chloride in discharged wastewater is a mandate from the local Regional Water Quality Control Board, which answers to the state Department of Water Resources.

The demand for no more than 100 milligrams of chloride per liter of wastewater is thus a state mandate for which the state provides no funding, Wilk and Weste argued.

“Requiring 265,000 residents to shoulder the burden of $130 million capital cost and $4.1 million in annual operating costs to discharge water in a better condition than we receive (it) from the State Water Project defies logic,” Wilk told commissioners.

But the commission denied the claim, in part because the Sanitation District has the means of paying for capital and operating costs of removing chloride from its wastewater.

That means is raising the fees of Sanitation District customers.

“We were not surprised today that the state commission denied the claim that the chloride limit set by the state for recycled water discharged into the Santa Clara River is an unfunded state mandate,” Weste said after the ruling.

“We fully expected that the commission would agree with their staff recommendation on this issue.”

Weste, who is one of two Santa Clarita City Council members to serve on the Sanitation District’s board of directors, said the district will continue to seek grants and other means of reducing the cost of chloride removal.

Federal law states that water must be cleaned up to a standard that benefits downstream users. The Santa Clara River’s downstream users are farmers who demand the chloride level in the water they receive be no more than 100 milligrams per liter.

Sanitation District officials wrangled and stalled over the demand for chloride removal for more than a decade — until the Regional Water Quality Control Board fined the district.

In October and with the nod of downstream farmers, officials agreed to a deep-well injection system that calls for chloride to be removed from wastewater and sunk 2 miles under ground in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Early estimates from the Sanitation District indicate the cost of deep-well injection per single-family home will add about $140 more a year to sewage rates; per condominium it is expected to be about $105 more yearly.

Business owners would be harder hit, facing as much as $4,050 more a year for a shopping center and $3,723 more a year for a stand-alone restaurant.




Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 25, 2014 4:39 p.m.

It would be helpful for the public to understand that the "loss" in front of the Commission on State Mandates is only the first step among a total of three more available. A victory at any of these additional three steps will allow a process to commence that will eliminate, in its entirely, ALL of the mega hundred million dollar costs to our community in connection with this chloride scam.

Of course "our" Sanitation District lost this first round of the "Test Claim" process. Why? The project that the Sanitation District asked the State to pay for just happened to be Sanitation District Environmental Impact Report Alternative four. Alternative four was never approved or adopted for construction by the Sanitation District, so why would the State ever even consider paying for an unapproved project?

Of course, this version of the "Test Claim" was denied.

The truth of the entire "test claim" process has been successfully withheld from our community. Here is a commonly told myth about it. "You file a test claim which you probably will not win. Even if you do win, you do not really get any money. Since the State is "broke", all that happens is that your "claim" gets put on a list, and some day, maybe, if the State ever gets any money, we might get paid something. In the meantime, just go ahead and pay the mega hundred million dollar chloride scam bill."

The truth of how "test claims" really function is RADICALLY different than the version being told around the SCV. The Commission on State Mandates rules in favor of Local Governments all the time.

During the last 12 months, a dramatic example of how the process really works dominated local news statewide for about a week. (please see next post. The mega millions to be saved here are yours.)

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 25, 2014 5:13 p.m.

About seven months ago, the State of California made a truly bizarre decision. It was announced at the State level that local government agencies (such as the City of Santa Clarita) would no longer be required to provide copies of public documents (such as the annual budget)to the public.

In a matter of just hours, virtually every media outlet in the State threatened legal action to keep public documents flowing to the public. What was NOT well publicized was what caused the State to issue this huge change.

It was caused by a ruling issued by the State Commission on Mandates. This ruling simply stated that the State had to pay local governments if the State made local governments issue documents to the public. (The State solved the problem quickly.)

The lesson and the truth here about "our" test claim could not be more important. If we win it, our name DOES NOT just show up on some list of unfunded projects, leaving us to pay the scam project in the meantime.

What occurs is that two processes commence, either one of which will remove completely the entire mega hundred million dollar chloride scam. The first of the two simply requires that the California State Legislature introduce a bill. This bill makes findings of fact that indicate that the State of California is now responsible for paying the mega hundred million dollar cost of the chloride scam, but that (alas) the State has no money to make the payment. Therefore, the entire underlying "mandate" is REMOVED!

Santa Clarita pays nothing.

This first method is a bit more complex than the second, but both produce essentially the same effect. Santa Clarita pays nothing. (Please see the next post for details of the second method.)

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 25, 2014 5:45 p.m.

The second method where a finding in our favor relieves us of all the mega hundred million dollar chloride scam is even easier.

How does this second method work? As part of the annual budget appropriations bill adopted in Sacramento each year, there is a special section listed called (you guessed it), "unfunded mandates".

This section lists all of the State programs that the Commission on State Mandates has required by paid for by the State instead of a local government agency.

So, how many of these "limbo" programs are listed in the State budget currently?

Fifty nine.

How long have these "projects" been carried year to year, without funding?

Some have been on the list for more than ten years.

During this time, no need to pay for the chloride scam would be necessary, and the State would pay, if the State decides it can afford the scam any more than the SCV.

Why hasn't the truth about our options been told to us? It is obvious that certain limited interest groups want our water, for free.

If anyone would wish to verify each and every assertion I have written here, I encourage you to do so.

As I did, start with a most professional and charming woman in Sacramento. Her name is Heather Halsey. She is an attorney. Her job title is Executive Director, California Commission on State Mandates.

chefgirl358: Posted: January 25, 2014 8:16 p.m.

Allan, thank you for the in depth explanation.

This issue has so many complex layers to it, and I've had a feeling all along that we are getting screwed by everyone in this whole fiasco.

cj64: Posted: January 25, 2014 8:28 p.m.

Mr Cameron, I disagree with your comments. The chloride scam is only around to provide water for Newhall Ranch, and up to 100,000 housing developments from Santa Clarita to Ventura.

The arbitrary 100mg limit placed on our wastewater exceeds the limit (150 mg) placed on other cities with the same downstream customers ie: Thousands Oaks. In the Thousand Oaks area there are not up to a 100,000 housing units planned for development in the next 20 years that will require water.

In addition, the water we get from the state often exceeds the 100mg limit.
We are then GUILTY AS CHARGED by turning on our faucets and letting the water, that exceeds the limits, go down the drain.

The only recourse we have is in a court of law. Pursuing legal action against the water boards that give us tainted water and expect us to pay to untaint the water for other customers. It is not our responsibility.

Going to mandates boards that are only around to screw taxpayers proves our Sanitaion board "officials" Antonovich, Kellar, Weste and McLean are only working to provide water for Newhall Ranch.

ElizaS: Posted: January 26, 2014 11:30 p.m.

I'm with Mr. Cameron on this one. He is very knowledgeable about the chloride issue. 100,000 housing units is grossly overstated and why would Kellar, Weste, and McLean want to provide water for Newhall Ranch which is not within the City. Your putting together facts and fiction.

ricketzz: Posted: January 26, 2014 5:10 a.m.

Perhaps some people have divided loyalties. Trust but [hire an investigator], as the old saying goes.

cj64: Posted: January 26, 2014 8:17 a.m.

You dont know how things work around here. Nearly all the construction of homes in the City of Santa Clarita were done while the properties were not part of Santa Clarita. They were later annexed to the City. Our City Council is very Developer and Big Business friendly, whether inside the city limits, or in areas outside that will someday become part of Santa Clarita.
The recent offramp being constructed off the 126 Freeway, and Newhall Ranch road are good examples of the "improvements" made catering the the Newhall Ranch Development.

There is no future expansion of the Santa Clarita area up the 5 to the Grapevine. Nobody will want to live in an area that closes a few times every year to snowfall. The area along the 126 has better weather than Santa Clarita, and is a better choice for new housing development.

CaptGene: Posted: January 26, 2014 8:38 a.m.

I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this, but if we are going to be forced to pay to reduce the chloride in our water, why don't we do that before it gets to us so that we can at least enjoy the benefit?

ohhyaa: Posted: January 26, 2014 9:31 a.m.

Weste is a bigger contaminant than the sludgy waste. Weste/Waste no coincidence folks.

garyr: Posted: January 26, 2014 9:42 a.m.

Pr-treating the water before we get it would be much more expensive, though it would actually benefit the water customer that's paying for it.

Since it would raise our water bills consumers would have some control over their costs by reducing water use. Since sewage rates are a flat fee it's easier to screw over the customers. If it payed for as part of the water bill a new restaurant could look to reduce water usage by design rather than pay the impossibly high sewage connection fee and then have zero incentive reduce the amount of chloride they dump into the system.

Higher water bill would possibly also discourage the city council's real constituents (the developers) from building more and more and more and more houses. By putting it in our sewage bills the current residents (who the council and water board don't care about) will subsidize developers. This makes everybody happy except the rubes that keep voting them into office.

There's also the secret that there's nothing wrong with the water effluent. Check out where it drains by the bike path under Bouquet. crystal clear water that fish are thriving in and plants are using. You could just use up all that water by growing rice or something down there. But that doesn't put any $ into anyone’s pocket that the CC or the water board care about.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 26, 2014 1:15 p.m.

Most of the commenters here so far are indeed on the right track.

This issue is very "detail rich". It has been made far more complicated than it need be, however. This "fog" has been cunningly spread in an attempt to have our entire community become robbery victims.

When all the lies are scrapped away, there is a central truth that can be simply stated.

This entire scam is about trying to solve a severe water shortage in areas to our west.

An earlier commenter stated (correctly) that asserting we must protect so called downstream "beneficial users" (farmers) is part of this scam. The Calleguas Water Shed Authority, which is in many ways our "twin" in the Simi/Ventura area, has a fully permitted chloride level of 150 milligrams per liter in its treated sewage discharge.

This water is used to irrigate the very same so called "salt sensitive" crops that get our water also.

The difference between our area and Calleguas is huge, however. At 150 milligrams per liter, Calleguas has a limit for chloride 50 PERCENT HIGHER than what is being imposed tentatively on us. When (not if) we get justice here by obtaining the same level as Calleguas, our costs for this scam will be zero.

Our opponents will frequently state at this point in a discussion, that we must not forget that Calleguas has a mega hundred million dollar chloride removal system under development. The strong implication here is "they have to pay, so Santa Clarita must pay also."

This is an utterly false contention. If we simply had 150 instead of 100, our "problem" would vanish, along with its huge costs.

(People, animals and plants exhibit no effect from chloride ingestion until the levels rise above 200.)

There is no complaint what-so-ever from the farmers who get the 150 milligram water about "crop damage". Why? No such damage exists.

All the bright folks who are commenting on this have a wonderful opportunity. We can prove again that the American Revolution is not an artifact of history, but is a work in progress.

Working together (which we will have multiple chances to do), we can stop this robbery.

cj64: Posted: January 26, 2014 3:01 p.m.

Mr Cameron, this issue is not about limits. It is made up. The "officials" want tp construct a new water treatment plant to provide clean water for Newhall Ranch and future developments off the 126. Here is the planned water situation.

=========--===-================| PLANTS |=========
|||| -------------------

The multi-million water treatment plant (paid by the taxpayers) will have state of the art reverse osmosis filters to provide pure drinking water. Also, as part of the process, it is required to reduce the hardness of the water since hard water will contaminate the filters.

So Newhall Ranch will be getting fresh clean soft water, better than the water we get. See what you get when you buy off the "officials"

The government situation in America, California, and Santa Clarita is horrible. Everyone appears to represent special interests, and not the public.

The Democratically controlled California legislature feels than can punish the mostly Republic area of Santa Clarita by making us pay for everything. This is displayed in their statement...

...the Sanitation District has the means of paying for capital and operating costs of removing chloride from its wastewater. That means is raising the fees of Sanitation District customers...

The Democrats have better ways of spending our money, giving $165 Million for drivers licenses for illegals.

The Republicans are no better. They feel they can steal public funds and make sweetheart deals for Big Business and Developers. The Santa Clarita Open Space ballot measure was originally defeated, but when more money poured in, it passed. The Open Space measure gave above market money to wealthy land owners for UNDEVELOPABLE land.

McLean and Weste reside in Newhall, and their campaign contributors own property in the area. The influx of taxpayer money into the Library, Downtown improvements, and the roundabout will increase the property values substantially. The BIG MONEY is to be made when the METRO STYLE condo projects start appearing in the area.

The chloride scam puts the middle class taxpayer between the State, who feels they can not provide funds by make us pay, and the local "officials", who believe they can steal from us to provide for wealty developers and big business.

cj64: Posted: January 26, 2014 3:08 p.m.

My graph did not come out right. Here it is again


ElizaS: Posted: January 27, 2014 9:57 p.m.

The City has not annexed any residential area west of the I-5. As you claim that you know how things work, you should know the reasons why the City has not been able to push past the I-5 boundary.

cj64: Posted: January 27, 2014 6:12 a.m.

The Santa Clarita City Council is Big Business and Developer friendly. People moving into Newhall Ranch will have to shop somewhere, and purchase autos somewhere.

Newhall Ranch Road and the rewidened McBean Pkwy will provide easy access for the 20,000 new homes of Newhall Ranch to the SANTA CLARITA MALL and the SANTA CLARITA car dealers.

The increased revenue from the mall and the car dealers will provide millions in taxes to the City of Santa Clarita.

Any comments Elizas?????

cj64: Posted: January 27, 2014 6:17 a.m.

More $$$$$ fo the City is anticipated for worthless landscaping, unneeded roundabouts, stupid worm/teepee art projects, and other wastes of taxpayer money. Numerous polls state that TRAFFIC is the NUMBER 1 issue here. The city finds ways of ignoring that issue, and ignoring what the people want.

ricketzz: Posted: January 27, 2014 6:39 a.m.

When Governor Brown declared a drought emergency last week he also suspended a bunch of water quality laws for the duration of the drought. Perhaps our salt catastrophe is included...

ElizaS: Posted: January 27, 2014 8:48 a.m.

Again, mixing facts with fiction. McBean Parkway was not re-widened to accommodate Newhall Ranch Road. The existing bridge is narrower than the roadway immediately north and south of bridge creating a bottleneck. It is to improve traffic flow, something you say is the number 1 issue that the city ignores. It also provides new connections to the trails in this area. Newhall Ranch Road was part of the cross-valley connector to improve east-west traffic in the City and to relieve Soledad Canyon Road. Again another major project to improve traffic.

Anything the City does, you can say is for the Newhall Ranch development. It is apparent I am not going to change your mind. You can keep living the delusion.

17trillion: Posted: January 27, 2014 9:11 a.m.

Why can't we sue to stop it? Do what the enviro terrorists do and tie it up in court for a decade. By then hopefully I will be able to leave this cesspool of a state.

cj64: Posted: January 27, 2014 9:15 a.m.

ElisaS, its not what I or you feel is going on. I can say that outside of City employees, a majority of people share my opinion.
The City and City Council choose to ignore the voice of the people, and do whatever they want.

The city put up an internet polling site asking the people what they wanted to do with the roundabout........

The city put up a site asking about the billboard removal along the railroad tracks and putting up 3 ugly huge electronic billboards along the freeways.
Nearly every public comment did not want the ugly electronic billboards. The planning commission decided to pass it on to the City Council over the negative responses of the Public. I have no doubt that our bought off City Council will ignore the public wishes and approve the ugly huge electronic billboards which will have a huge negative impact on our valley.

The new overpass offramp being constructed on the 126 is said to be for increased traffic coming from the commerce center. Oh yes, they have also said that the Newhall Ranch Housing tract "may" benefit from the new offramp at their front door.

If the city is so concerned with bottlenecks, why is'nt something being done with Bouquet Canyon Road From Plum Canyon to Seco Canyon. There is only two lanes there, and three lanes after Seco Canyon. Traffic backs up every morning. There is one lane taken up with a bike lane that is hardly used. The bike lane ends at Seco Canyon so if someone is biking there in the morning, they are takings risks with their life biking south of Seco.

It would eliminate the bottleneck if the unused bike lane was replaced with a third lane of traffic to keep up with the other roads in the area that are three lanes (McBean Pkwy, Soledad,Valencia etc).

chico: Posted: January 27, 2014 9:17 a.m.

Isn't there some major water system proposal out there?

Maybe we should delay the decision the pay for chloride removal when a revamped water source up North may contain less salt from the delta?

cj64: Posted: January 27, 2014 9:22 a.m.

Also, I believe you made a comment about Metro and Proposition R for carpool lanes. In LA County we are being charged an extra 0.5% on our taxes for carpool lanes that should have paid for carpool lanes on the 5. The carpool lanes on the 5 were not in the original Proposition R, so nobody in our City Council complained when the citizens were being charged again for toll carpool lanes that their taxes should have covered.

To buy off our City, Metro gave money for the McBean expansion. There are signs along the road advertising the contributions by Metro. The McBean expansion project was not in the original Proposition R.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 27, 2014 1:23 p.m.

Back to the issue of the chloride/scam/water robbery in progress. At the meeting of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board meeting in November, held in Simi Valley, a most interesting request was made to this Board.

(It is this agency that is issuing the false chloride levels)

Two lobbyists from Ventura County appeared. They were a man named Mike Solomon, head of the United Water Conservation District (located in Ventura), and a man named Robb Roy, chief lobbyist for the Ventura County Agricultural Association, a group he founded and has headed for 40 years.

They both spoke to the Board about our water. They actually asked that the Water Board give Ventura County some of our precious Saugus Aquifer ground water, essentially immediately.

For free.

(I was in the room, and also have video of the "request" being made.)

The critical point here is that this is a war in progress. The people seeking to rob us are well organized, well paid, and relentless. They are not giving up.

Of course, neither our we. Guess who is going to win in the final analysis?

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: January 27, 2014 3:00 p.m.

First order of business..... kicking McClean and Weste to the curb for selling out their own citizens. They have no place on our city council!!

ohhyaa: Posted: January 27, 2014 5:38 p.m.

Allan_Cameron, is there something that the average citizen can do to help fight this? This seems bigger than voting out a few cads and attending public hearings.

ElizaS: Posted: January 27, 2014 7:58 p.m.

cj64: The most common response was do nothing. However, more than 2/3 suggested doing something. The overpass for 126 is in the County and not a city project so they had no decision in that project. The I-5 carpool lanes is not a project that is listed in Measure R so you can not be charged again for a project that is never funded. True, McBean Parkway widening is not a Measure R project. It was a grant that the City applied for and was awarded in 2009 before the whole carpool issue came up. Do your research, your arguments are still flawed.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: January 28, 2014 5:50 a.m.

To the kind person who is named "ohhyaa" on this site. The answer is indeed YES, there is a GREAT DEAL that a majority of our fellow citizens can easily do to keep from being robbed with this chloride scam in addition to voting in your own best interests and going to important meetings.

The first is to simply say to those who do not want us to win (These people are easy to spot. They are the ones who say, all the time "You can't win")......Look chump it is NOT the people of Santa Clarita who are going to lose here. It is the robbers.

Secondly, I have yet to meet any "average citizens". Everyone I know is as precious and unique as a snowflake.

There is a great deal we can all do together, not just one thing. All the things on that great list for victory will be easy to see and accomplish in the very near future.

ricketzz: Posted: January 28, 2014 6:46 a.m.

Give them aquifer water from below Bermite.

ohhyaa: Posted: January 28, 2014 7:16 a.m.

Allen_C. I am looking forward to exercising my right to vote, for city issues, now that my neighborhood was annexed July 1st. I have added a note to myself to contact the City this week to better understand how the 1 million dollars, that was paid under contract to the company that one council member is a BOD, was spent... I never saw or received anything informing me of my options. Just your very thorough and informative posts here.

cj64: Posted: January 28, 2014 7:20 a.m.

You can play the same games as our City council.
The city put a web site poll, and the city council IGNORED what the public wanted)DO NOTHING) and picked the less than 10% option (LANDSCAPING).
My guess is the landscaper paid someone off to get the business.

The only councilmember who represents the people, TimBen Boydston says..

Of those surveyed, 189 asked that the city do nothing; 129 asked for a tribute to Bill Hart; 97 felt that an oak tree, which is part of the city’s symbol, be planted; 60 went for the landscaping option; 48 wanted a water feature, such as a fountain; and eight voted for art in another location.

“I think the City Council should listen to the people,” said City Councilman TimBen Boydston.

“If we leave it with nothing in it, at least in the the short term, it gives us the advantage of putting in a Christmas tree, or maybe put some temporary art, like the ‘Ever-changing Wall,’” he said, referencing the Newhall mural..


They are incompetent. They botched up this chloride scam. Weste has history in getting taxpayers to pay. After the public voted down "open space", with more big landowner money she reran the "open space tax scam". In the chloride issue, as Sanitation Director she gave a private company she was a Director $1 Million to convince us to pay more taxes for the chloride scam.

They have botched up the Cemex scam, accomplishing nothing in over 10 years.

Elizas, do you know what happens to elected "officials" who IGNORE the peoples wishes, do not represent the public and do whatever they want?


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