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Meetings set for proposed SCV sewage rate hikes

Posted: May 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley residents will receive mailed notices within the next few weeks about proposed rate hikes in their sewage fees following a vote by the local Sanitation District board Wednesday night.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District directors agreed to set a public hearing on the rate increases for June 30, mail out notices as required by Proposition 218 and schedule a series of public informational meetings on the issue.

The fee hikes are required to meet state water quality standards for chloride, a naturally occurring component of common table salt, in treated wastewater dumped into the Santa Clara River, district officials said.

Rate increases would mean about $100 more per year for single-family homes by fiscal year 2019-20. For businesses the rate increase would vary depending on the amount of water discharged and the treatment required.

For uses such as light manufacturing and warehousing, the increases could be as little as $15 a year per 1,000 square feet of space by fiscal year 2019-20. But for stand-alone restaurants it could be as high as $886 per 1,000 square feet of space each year.

Sanitation district fees appear on property tax bills. Fee increases would be phased in over six years’ time.

Wednesday night’s meeting at Santa Clarita City Hall was lightly attended, drawing several critics of the rate hikes and some representatives from the area’s business community.

“We are concerned about the cost on business,” said Santa Clarita Valley attorney Hunt C. Braly, representing the Chamber of Commerce. “We are concerned about the significant increases in connection fees.”

Still, he said, the Chamber encouraged the district to move ahead with its chloride-reduction plan and “look(s) forward to participating in the public meetings and the public hearing.”

Also speaking at the meeting were plan critics Alan Ferdman, Allan Cameron and Cam Noltemeyer.

“The state can fund the mandate, not us,” Noltemeyer said of the chloride reduction mandate. She also called for a public vote on the proposed rate increases.

During presentations before the vote, staff members reminded directors and the audience that the district could face severe fines from the state if it fails to take action to reduce chloride in Santa Clarita Valley wastewater to 100 milligrams per liter.

Mandated state fines would equal $6,000 per day for the district, and discretionary fines could be greater, said Phil L. Friess, department head of Technical Services for the county Sanitation Districts. Fines, like fees, would be paid by district ratepayers.

The plan for chloride reduction approved by directors in October calls for a $130 million system that includes the process of reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light treatment and deep-well injection.

On Wednesday night directors approved a $515,000 expenditure for engineering services, design and permitting of deep injection wells for the district.

State water quality regulators insist the district reduce chloride to 100 mg/l in water discharged into the river — a level demanded by downstream farmers who say salt in the water harms their avocado trees.

The district has battled the mandate — one of the lowest for chloride in the state — for 10 years and wrangled with state regulators for at least two years, reducing the estimated cost of the system from half a billion dollars to the currently estimated $130 million.

Sanitation District officials hope to win some concessions from state water officials, along with grants and other funding assistance, that could further reduce the costs of wastewater chloride reduction.

Opponents of what some call the “salt tax” note that water arriving in the Santa Clarita Valley via the California Aqueduct already contains some 80 milligrams per liter of chloride. Aqueduct water makes up about half that delivered to Santa Clarita Valley homes and businesses.


lars1: Posted: May 8, 2014 7:16 a.m.

SCAM... DONT BE FOOLED. the "officials" are bought off by big developers to get the taxpayers to pay for the developer needs. newhall ranch needs water, and building a water treatment plant will supply the water. thank you weste, mclean, kellar, and antonovich for raising our taxes for newhall land and farms welfare.

this is what they are doing.... --edited.

Nitesho: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:03 a.m.

"Rate increases would mean about $100 more per year for single-family homes "

Middle Finger in the air to you all.

missyJk: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:48 a.m.

NO MORE TAXES NO MORE TAXES we pay enough out here in SCV with all the bond issues and such we pay more than our neighbors in the San Fernando Valley...STOP the illegal taxation

Vtown123: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:50 a.m.

User Removed Comment.

17trillion: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:50 a.m.

So now the fine is 6000 a day. What happened to $3,000.00 per day? Still, I say pay the fine and I'll pay the 32 dollars instead of $100.00. Businesses serving food are really going to get screwed.

I'm with Nitesho....middle finger to all you thieves.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 8, 2014 2:58 p.m.

Ditto with 17 and nite...

Up yours sanitation district!

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: May 8, 2014 3:29 p.m.

Probably be cheaper to KEEP our waste water and recycle it for our own irrigation needs. No water going downstream, no problem with too much sodium chloride, right?

Cam: Posted: May 8, 2014 5:54 p.m.

When you receive this Notice of Public Hearing in the mail it is really like a ballot. This notice and your right to say NO to this $130 million State Mandate is granted under Proposition 218 and the Protest Process. If you don't want to pay this $130 million look for the Proposition 218 and the protest process box on your notice. The information you need to file a protest(NO)is in that box. It must in writing, include your Assessors ID on the notice and mail BEFORE the June 30,2014 meeting date or bring it to the meeting. You don't have to state a reason, just say NO

lars1: Posted: May 8, 2014 6:27 p.m.

have not received any Proposition 218 protest form.
if its due by June 30,2014, the dirtbags probably mail it out on June 29th.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 8, 2014 7:33 p.m.

The steady, years long, repeated fear tactic of featuring fines has never included all the many, standard ways of preventing the fines, or of avoiding them, once levied.

As an example, repeated trumpeting of a 225,000 dollar fine against our "local" sewage district is featured relentlessly in heavy propaganda, paid for by us. The point of all this "fine" propaganda is clear.

It is designed to say "See, See, we CAN get fined, and for VERY big bucks, so, be afraid, do not stand up for yourself, and above all CAVE INTO THE ROBBERY!".

Here are facts that are never disclosed.

When a fine is proposed by Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board staff, there are always several automatic layers of administrative appeal within the Water Board staff.

If the fine is not rescinded during these standard staff appeals, then the final appeal (at the local Water Board level) involves a full blown Noticed Public Hearing before the entire Regional Water Quality Control Board of Directors. At such a public hearing appeal, everyone in Santa Clarita could appear and testify. (Of course, other appeals at the State level would still be possible).

So, did "our" Sanitation/sewage District, on behalf of all its taxpayers, use all the opportunities to appeal the 225,000 fine?

Did Santa Clarita get its "day in court" full public hearing about the fine?


The Sanitation District quietly, with no public notice, behind closed doors, low down on the ladder of appeals, just paid our money for the fine.


Ask them. But having a "scare tactic tool" would not have been possible otherwise.

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 8, 2014 7:48 p.m.

There are many more, standard ways not to get fined.

But lets say none of them work. (This is what "our" Sanitation/sewage District will say is inevitable.)

Then what. We then have the "nuclear option".

It is known as Chapter Nine.

This is a government agency bankruptcy.

Propaganda already in circulation says "But Santa Clarita has a triple A credit rating. How could "we" file bankruptcy?"


The "Sanitation District of Santa Clarita Valley" is a completely "stand alone", independent government agency. It has nothing to do, legally, with the City of Santa Clarita.

The City of Santa Clarita, and the County of Los Angeles would have nothing to do with a Chapter Nine Government Agency Bankruptcy of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District.

So would this "tool to save us" work?

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 8, 2014 8:06 p.m.

One of the necessary requirements to getting a loan is to have an excellent credit rating.

For entities that declare Bankruptcy however, a really good credit rating is a big problem.

"Our" Sanitation/Sewage District has said it will be borrowing 130 million dollars plus interest. They imply the loan is "in the bag".

So, just what kind of credit rating does "our" Sanitation/Sewage District have?

Interestingly and strangely enough, "our" Sanitation/sewage district has no credit rating at all.

So, the "in the bag" loan raises many questions.

However, an entity with no credit rating at all should find Chapter Nine Bankruptcy quite feasible.

We are NOT going to be raped and robbed. Stay tuned.

17trillion: Posted: May 9, 2014 8:17 a.m.

Good Job Allan. You're my new hero even though you rag on people for not using their real names. :)

JoJoinscv: Posted: May 9, 2014 11:40 a.m.

I think that the people in the valley who get their water from the state water project through the local water retailers, should demand that the treated effluent no longer be discharged into the river on the west side of town, but rather build a pipeline up the river as far as they can afford, but at least to the eastern edge of their water district, and release the water there. This would recharge the groundwater table all through the valley and naturally reduce the chloride levels. It is insane in our drought environment to dump this totally treated water into another water district, who has not paid for this water and is getting the added befit of having this water recharge their groundwater basin for free. Remember, at least 50% of the water used by Santa Claritans, comes from the Santa Clara River. If the background chloride levels in the river rise over the limit, go ahead and build the RO plant. The citizens will still benefit mightily by recharging their groundwater basin. Also, you will no longer be discharging water over the chloride limit into the river at the LA County/Ventura County line and that will be a dead issue. Do some research, you will find that this is how Orange County among other local counties are dealing with declining water imports from the state. I would advocate that you dump the treated effluent further up the river maybe as far as Acton. We could consider forming a river water district wherein all who benefit by the groundwater recharge outside the current water district be included to help pay for the pipeline.

missyJk: Posted: May 9, 2014 6:28 p.m.

and whoever sends the water down, that we buy it from, should have the chloride levels reduced at their end...i think somehow the State got the idea we all have deep pockets..Many of us bought 25 plus years ago when this community was less expensive because it was further out..Yes it became a nice place to live but dont drain our pockets...Drain the builders building the $$$$ homes..NO more TAXES i think all of us are in unison on that one especially to benefit another county that has lower taxes and cheaper insurance rates yes thats Ventura county

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 10, 2014 5:35 p.m.

Jojoinscv has posted a most thoughtful concept. Please read it above.

Great minds think alike.

Jojoinscv's concept is spot on. It has the added credibility of being advocated by the expert water professionals at the Newhall County District.

The Sanitation District has dismissed it completely. The reason given was that the "deadlines" that had to be met did not allow for this concept to be considered. The bogus "solution" that has been adopted, however, doesn't meet the "deadlines" either. This "deadline failure" was explained at some length at the Wednesday meeting. The Sanitation District acted as if the "deadline failure" had no significance. Last October, however, when the "pump the water upstream" solution was dismissed, "deadlines" were the reason. According to the District then, all hell would emerge if a deadline was missed.

Other great solutions have also been treated with contempt. These complement the idea of sending our treated water back to the headwaters of the Santa Clara. These would work "with", not "instead of" this great "upstream" idea.

The other easy "fixes" that have been dismissed include the following:

1. Filing for a "site specific objective" for chloride based on a full examination of the background levels found in the Santa Clara now, something that has never been done. Santa Clarita Valley is entitled to this exam of existing conditions as a matter of State Law. We have never got it.

2. No notice to the public, or any news stories have been written about two standard opportunities to correct the current absurd chloride levels. These are:

a) The Tri-Annual Basin Plan Review.
This "Plan Review" should be underway now, as we speak. However, no notice, no news stories, no Sanitation District disclosure or discussion about this chance for "sanity" has happened. By State Law, this "Plan Review" is a standard opportunity for all aspects of Water Quality regulations to be examined. This once every three year chance must not be "blown". The information about this opportunity was given to me by officials of the State Water Quality Department itself.

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 10, 2014 6:06 p.m.

Very infrequently, the permits allowing "our" two sewage plants to operate and discharge treated water into the Santa Clara River must be renewed.

It is a gift from the "water gods" that these two critical permits are up for renewal right now. The date given for these renewals was in March of this year.

Just as with the "Tri Annual Basin Plan Review", the application for new NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits)allows, by State and Federal law, all aspects of the effect on the river to be considered.

This NPDES Permit renewal is yet another "golden opportunity" for the absurd, and frankly illegal 100 milligram per liter chloride level to be corrected. This is not "my opinion". I was told repeatedly by the foremost legal and technical experts in the State that "we" would be fools to miss these chances to restore sanity about chloride.

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 10, 2014 6:52 p.m.

During the time that so called "information" was being "shared" with the public, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District (based in Whittier) did not disclose the fact that chances to "win back" our water rights would be available this year.

When confronted with the truth, however, all these routine chances were dismissed as not being possible. Among the reasons listed as to why using our rights could not happen had to do with "deadlines".

Dismissed were the following:

1. A "Basin Plan Amendment".
2. "Averaging" the measurement of chloride levels over times of the year.
3. "Averaging" the output of chloride between the Saugus and Valencia plants.
4. Delay in meeting the "strict" chloride level from May of 2015, to a date in the future, so that the scientific tests of the river (never done) could be done. (A several year process.)
5. As part of "averaging" the output of the Saugus and Valencia plants, delete the need for a mega million dollar pipeline connecting the two plants.
6. Giving the SCV the time necessary to do a "River Background Chloride Characterization" study, so that sound science would finally be present.

The fist five listed above were dismissed out of hand (just like the great "upstream" concept) and were not considered, when the "rush" was on prior to last October.

Now that a so called "Plan" was approved by the three member board, however, it is revealed that "alternative 2" in the Environmental Impact Report (the "chosen project") must have all five of the six items listed above approved.

However, no approvals of these items from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board have been issued.

Before any such approvals are granted, however, a mega-hundred-million dollar tax increase "must" be imposed on all of us by July of 2014, less than three months from now.

The Santa Clarita Valley does not have to be robbed this way. Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 10, 2014 7:04 p.m.

So, is some "immediate" tax increase needed on a rush basis, when no aspect of the "selected project" has received approvals that must be issued by the "Regional Board"?

The Water Board itself sees no need for a rush.

Last November, when the members of the Board heard a few brief "updates" about how the "solution to the chloride" was progressing, Sam Unger, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board answered a direct question about "timing" from a Board member.

Mr. Unger said "Do not consider this issue until the work on the NPDES permit renewals happens in March of 2014."

Where are the notices, the "news stories", the discussions before the City Council, the discussions before the Sanitation District, before the LA County Board of Supervisors, about the Basin Plan Review, and the NPDRES permit renewal? Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 10, 2014 7:40 p.m.

Has the "Water Board" made a decision to fine Santa Clarita, as the Sanitation District staff stated repeatedly this Wednesday, verbally, and in writing in its presentation to Laurene Weste, Bob Kellar, and Mike Antonovich?

These "reports" said, over and over (you can see them on line) that the "Water Board" was going to do "this", that they were "inclined" to fine us, and so forth.

But is this the truth?

Upon direct California Public Records Act request, a Sanitation District staff person (Phil Freize) listed the names of the "Water Board Officials" who were "leaing toward" large fines.

It turns out that this "fine threat" is only being "issued" (according to the Sanitation District) by staff members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The problem is, however, staff members do not have authority to levy fines at all. That power rests exclusively with the members of the Water Quality Control Board. The last the Water Board heard of this issue, it was to be delayed until March of this year.

Suddenly, in the name of the Water Board, "fines" according to the staff of "our" Sanitation District, are now a "certainty".

Again, since only the Water Quality Control Board can issue fines, just how many meetings, hearing presentations, written reports, and requests for dialogue have happened between the members of the Board of "our" Sanitation District, and the members of the Board of the Water Quality Control Board?

In the seven or eight years that this "controversy" has been in play, not a single meeting between the directors of the Sanitation District (currently Laurene Weste, Bob Kellar, and Mike Antonovich), and the members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board has EVER happened.

Of course, no public hearing before the Water Board where Santa Clarita was given notice, and strongly encouraged to attend has occurred either.

So, if fines were really possible, we in Santa Clarita have every opportunity, under State law, to prevent them, (the obvious best choice), or defeat them, IF EVER ACTUALLY issued.

Of course, unlike the $225,000 fine, real action to protect us would be necessary.

There are even more shocking details behind this fraud/scam.

We are, however, much to the dismay of those who think otherwise, going to triumph over this robbery in progress.

Join the those who will act to protect you, not rape and rob you.

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