The Los Angeles Regional Water Control Board has ruled on an acceptable level of chloride (salt) in waste water. Once the amount of chloride (salt) in the waste water passes the acceptable level it must be treated and salt must be removed before it travels downstream out of Santa Clarita and ultimately to the ocean. If the levels are not decreased to an acceptable level the potential violator, in this case the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) Sanitation District, which include both City and unincorporated County areas of the Santa Clarita Valley, can be considered a polluter and held liable to millions of dollars in fines.
Mostly during times of drought, the treated waste water flowing away from Santa Clarita downstream, via the Santa Clara River through Filmore, Santa Paula and Ventura, exceeds the allowable amount of chloride (salt). The reason high salt content in water needs to be addressed is that it can be detrimental to farmers down stream whose crops cannot grow when chloride levels are too high.
There are multiple ways salt gets into the waste water. Santa Clarita Valley imports half the water supply from the State Water Project. The water from the State has minerals in it and is referred to as “hard” water. Some of these minerals include chlorides or salt. In addition to water coming into Santa Clarita, that already has salt in it, many homeowners have historically used Automatic Water Softeners (AWS) that dump large amounts of salt directly into the ground which ultimate ends up in the river raising chloride levels. These water softeners have since been banned.
The history of regulation and guidelines can be found here on SantaClaritaChlorideFacts.com, but what Santa Clarita residents are now facing is the need to pay for the design of advanced water treatment to remove salt from Santa Clarita waste water before it travels downstream. As mentioned, if Santa Clarita does not fall into compliance with the Los Angeles Regional Water Control Boards Total Maximum Daily Load, the City would most likely be substantially fined as a polluter.
In an effort to come to compliance the SCV Sanitation District developed an Alternative Compliance Plan (ACP). This plan has called for the removal of water softeners. It also calls for advanced treatment of water and a four year study that will ultimately result in a bid to create necessary infrastructure to clean the water. To accomplish this, the SCV Sanitation District is proposing a rate increase to residents of Santa Clarita that will ultimately raise fees from $16.58 per month to $24,67 per month. If the fee increase is approved, the resulting study and bid would determine the price-tag of reducing chloride levels in four years to comply with the guild lines set forth by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board., The SCV Sanitation District would need to go back for a fee increase vote at that time.
This summary is the short description of a very complex issue. For more details check out the SCV Sanitation District website and further explore this site.