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Into the wells

The Signal explores deep well injection site to see how process will work for SCV

Posted: February 1, 2014 10:11 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2014 10:11 p.m.

Ray Tremblay, who heads the Facilities Planning Department for the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, poses next to the deep well injection site.

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For more than 100 years, people have been drilling holes in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Some drilled for oil, some for minerals, many for water. But this year engineers with the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District are expected to drill wells to bury salty chloride brine extracted from wastewater destined for the Santa Clara River.

Three months ago, after years of wrangling over the best way to reduce the amount of chloride ending up in the river, district officials decided to bury the salty compound deep beneath the Santa Clarita Valley.

A chorus of public voices ­urged the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board to move forward with a plan calling for chloride discharged by the sanitation district to be removed by reverse osmosis technology, then buried deep underground.

Now, comes the job of removing the brine, digging the wells and proceeding with the plan to bury it.

But, what do the wells look like? Where will they go?

In setting out to answer these questions, The Signal visited a deep well injection site 60 miles from here to see first-hand what the “wells” look like and how they operate.

On Jan. 22, a Signal reporter stood over a deep well injection site dug six years ago as part of the Terminal Island Renewable Energy Project in San Pedro, the pride of Los Angeles city officials eager to demonstrate sustainability through innovative technology.

Mile underground

In the shadow of giant cranes erected at the Port of Long Beach loading docks, the project - first of its kind in the country - forces unwanted biosolids a mile underground and, through naturally-occurring biodegradation, generates useful energy-producing methane gas.

Biosolids are the solid component of the waste water treatment process.

Although the five wells earmarked for Santa Clarita have nothing to do with biosolids, the type of well picked by Santa Clarita Valley residents into which we would bury our unwanted brine looks and operates the same way as the deep well injection system at San Pedro.

The tour guide for the recent visit to San Pedro was Jeff Couture, facilities and engineering manager for GeoEnvironmental Technologies which built the system.

Couture began his tour with salty chloride-contaminated water - the very thing Santa Clarita Valley residents have been trying to get rid of for more than 10 years.

“The last thing we use to make the water clean is the reverse osmosis,” Couture said. “And from that, there is a residual or a waste product that we call brine. The brine comes to us in one pipe,” he said. “It goes into a holding tank. From there it is injected with 2,500 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure down about a mile.

“Geologists have identified a good porous sand layer down there at about 5,000 feet. It is a layer 60 foot deep and that’s where we inject the material.”

A pipe 3 inches in diameter fits inside the larger 7-inch pipe.

“With these two pipes we can isolate the pressure,” Couture said. “We send a gun down there to perforate (the outer casing). The gun shoots off bullets in all directions, six shots per foot, perforating the casing.”

The brine - injected down the pipe under high pressure - is dispersed through the “bullet hole” perforations created by the “gun” and into the porous sandy layer.

‘Well’ a misnomer

To call the DWI wells “wells” is a bit of a misnomer.

They’re not like conventional water wells most people picture on a farm, 4-feet in diameter and 200 feet deep with a bucket attached to a rope, lowered by a crank. With deep well injection, there’s no “well” to fall into.

The DWI “well” is actually a mile-long pipe inserted into the ground.

Think of a 5,000-foot syringe, 7 inches in diameter, that punctures the ground. That’s the DWI well. The plunger on that syringe - keeping with the analogy - looks like a fire hydrant only double in size.

That’s it.

What takes up more space, however, is the pump needed to force the brine deep underground. That equipment takes up about as much space as a 40-foot RV.

Well location

The site where the wells would be located in the Santa Clarita Valley is expected to be the outer edge of the Tournament Players Club of Valencia on the west side of The Old Road.

Ray Tremblay, who heads the Facilities Planning Department for the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, said he’s already working with the owners of the property.

“We would build one well first as what we call a test well,” he told The Signal. “We have good information that the sub-surface is suitable.”

Tremblay and his team selected the site near the Tournament Players Club after crossing other locations in the Santa Clarita Valley off the list, he said. The goal was to avoid drilling where there’s a fault line or underground oil or water.

If results of the test well come back positive, then a handful of other wells will be drilled in the same area, he said.

The site is on property owned by Newhall Land Development Inc.

“We met with Newhall Land, and they are amenable to further discussion,” Tremblay said.

The only notable inhabitant on the site is a cluster of oak trees deemed an oak tree preservation area on a conservation easement owned and managed by an environmental group.

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
on Twitter
@jamesarthurholt

Comments

ricketzz: Posted: February 2, 2014 6:52 a.m.

It is my understanding that the Declaration of Emergency by Governor Brown suspends all CEQA mandated orders for the duration of the water emergency. Is this not the case?


EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 2, 2014 8:19 a.m.

"A chorus of public voices ­urged the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board to move forward with a plan calling for chloride discharged by the sanitation district to be removed by reverse osmosis technology, then buried deep underground."

A chorus of public voices??? What a crock of sh......


cj64: Posted: February 2, 2014 8:41 a.m.

SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM

Only about 60 days to the election in April that will get rid of the dbs that pushed this exhorbitant tax scam on the citizens of Santa Clarita. McLean and Weste who decided to give a private company, that she was a director, $1 Million to convince us to pay this scam tax. She did this instead of fighting this for the citizens. I like to see the "chorus of public voices" who think that raising our taxes hundreds is a good idea.


Carlitos: Posted: February 2, 2014 9:51 a.m.

Why don't we keep the cleaned up water, put it back in our pipes. Then we would not be discharging (giving away) good water to Ventura farmers. Unless they want to pay for it!


lars1: Posted: February 2, 2014 12:55 p.m.

This article is full of lies and misstatemnets.

A chorus of public voices ­urged the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board to move forward
Other than the members of the sanitation board there was NO PUBLIC SUPPORT.


the type of well picked by Santa Clarita Valley residents into which we would bury our unwanted brine
Other than the members of the sanitation board there was NO RESIDENT CHOICE.

This is just another pack of lies and deceit from the sanitation board and the santa clarita city council. They lied, asking us to ban our water softeners or else we would have to pay for a water treatment plant.

Although we did not approve the hundreds of dollars every year in rate increases, they not put out garbage stating that we are all in approval of this. Sounds like the Jerry Brown tax scam "for the children" and we see that its just to raise their salaries and pension benefits.



Allan_Cameron: Posted: February 2, 2014 4:25 p.m.

The Sierra Club, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles County Castaic Area Town Council, the Affordable Clean Water Alliance, are among the many "public voices" heard about this chloride scam.

They were all heard in opposition.

Not said loudly, is the fact that "deep well injection" of brine water into our local ground has been occurring as part of oil well activity for about 100 years.

Our two sources of ground water (the alluvial aquifer, and the Deep Saugus Aquifer) were, at a cost of millions of dollars, studied by a hydrogeologist named Richard Slade.

The "Slade studies" remain the definitive works on the truth of our ground water. The "Slade study" of the deep Saugus Aquifer revealed that certain sections of it are brackish, meaning that they contain such high amounts of salt that the water cannot be used.

It is astounding that one hundred years of deep injection of salt water into our ground has never been even questioned for a connection to the fact that parts of the Saugus Aquifer are to full of salt to be used.


michael: Posted: February 3, 2014 8:50 a.m.

Mr. Cameron is not completely accurate. " Not said loudly, is the fact that "deep well injection" of brine water into our local ground has been occurring as part of oil well activity for about 100 years". The fact is that brine water is reinjected in the Rye Canyon area. Done properly, the process does not impact ground water.


chico: Posted: February 3, 2014 8:55 a.m.

Yeah, putting the brine back in the ground seems weird.

What to do with that stuff? How about starting SCV pickling?

Or, maybe we can ship it to Cal City or even Tehachapi, we already defiled that place with windmills.


EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 3, 2014 9:14 a.m.

Chico: SCV Pickling! Love it.


Allan_Cameron: Posted: February 3, 2014 6:07 p.m.

"Michael", it is simply not possible, given the current "state of the art" of hydro geology, to state that "done properly, brine injection does not affect ground water". I simplified a most challenging and technically complex issue about how (and even if) underground rock, soil, and water conditions can be characterized.

I am in the real estate development business. Here in Santa Clarita, I have stood at sites where literally hundreds of test borings have been drilled and core samples examined. On these sites, 500 or more foot deep shafts (many of those) have been drilled. A geologist has then been physically lowered down these shafts to visually inspect the buried conditions.

It is well known, standard industry knowledge that despite such thorough initial testing, the full geologic truth of any given site will not be adequately known until large scale grading and exposure of the buried soil formations takes place.

Even more challenging, especially here in Santa Clarita where we have one of the most heavily earthquake faulted environments in the world, is to predict with any possible accuracy what ground water will actually do.

This becomes essentially impossible when the necessary factor of elapsed time is considered. The warped idea of the Sanitation District is to just keep injecting salt water into the ground FOREVER. Just how much capacity to receive this kind of water injection does our ground have? No one knows the answer, and, given the current state of technology, no one can answer.

This concept of putting pollution into the ground may or may not work in the short term. At what point in time will salt water pollution of our precious ground water resource become manifest? Will it take 5, or 20, or 50 years? No one knows.

What is certain is this. This entire chloride issue is an astounding scam. It is even more disconcerting to identify local officials who are willing to place the future at risk, spend mega millions of dollars that do not have to be spent, and not stand up and defend our community, when the tools to do so are straight forward.

All that needs to happen if for these tools to be picked up and used.


michael: Posted: February 3, 2014 8:21 p.m.

Mr. Cameron. Brine water in injected everyday into the ground. Those that are formally educated in this field will take issue with your belief. Brine is generally injected into formations that have a history of production, operating pressures, etc. The wells are tested and the formation verified before the well is used. The depth of the well determines were the brine is discharged to assure the water table in not impacted. I agree however, that spending millions of dollars to save fruit downstream of SCV when it has not be proved that the fruit give a dam, is a joke. The problem I see is with the leadership of the San Dist. By the way, there are wells in our area the extend over 8000 feet below the surface. I would question the criterion the san dist used to select a new well location and the well bore design. This is a critical issue and if not done properly, would make your concern valid.


cj64: Posted: February 5, 2014 9:56 a.m.

The issue is not about chloride limits, that is why its referred to as the "CHLORIDE SCAM".

The issue is all about building a new treatment plant to provide water for Newhall Ranch. The "officials" of the Sanitation District have not fought the illegal chloride limit imposed on us, but they have tried to convince the public to pay hundreds to thousands every year for the new water threatment plant. The "reverse osmosis" and ultraviolet water treatment will provide water that is comparable to the 25 cent per gallon water filter machines around all the markets in Santa Clarita.

The identification of the local officials who have sold us out are the Sanitation Board Directors. Antonovich, Kellar, Weste, and McLean.



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