Water heads expand basin salt plan

Excavators and workers create a form for a 700 foot long, 4 foot high by 8 foot wide storm drain as construction progresses at Vista Canyon development in Canyon Country on Wednesday Feb. 24, 2016. (Dan Watson/The Signal)
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Local water officials working to better manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley’s water basin, are also working to better manage the salt in that basin.

Members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency board approved a recommendation Wednesday to pay their salt-studying consultants more money for extra work in light of new salt demands handed down recently by regional water regulators.

The consultants, Geoscience Support Services, Inc., need an additional $16,500 in order to amend the report they prepared for state water officials on how the agency was going to manage salt and nutrients. The amendment increases the existing consultants agreement  from $271,000 to $287,500.

The report is called the Salt and Nutrient Management Plan and it was tailor-made to satisfy the state’s guidelines on salty water.  In December, the state stamp-approved the agency’s salt plan.

But, then regional water regulators – the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board – had some concerns of their own, all of which cost money to address.

The regional board wanted to see the revised salt plan reflect on changes made to the Vista Canyon Project and to the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District’s ongoing struggle to reduce the amount of salty chloride in the Santa Clara River, according to a report prepared for the agency board by Dirk Marks, the agency’s water resources manager.

The Vista Canyon 1,000 home housing project near Sand Canyon comes with what is commonly called the water factory, Santa Clarita’s first large-scale water recycling project, now underway.

“This is all about the basin,” Marks told The Signal Monday, noting chloride is “one of the constituents addressed in the salt and nutrient plan.”

Chloride is a naturally occurring substance, a component of common table salt.

The basin in SCV is called the Santa Clara River Valley East Subbasin and is the same basin for which water officials have been meeting recently in an effort to create a groundwater group to take care of it.

Under a state law passed two years ago, a law spurred by drought concerns and conservation, California communities – through their water agencies – are expected to come up with a community-based groundwater sustainability agency.

State water officials expect to see such a groundwater agency formed for each of the state’s 127 basins by June.

And, when it comes to the state’s concern over the saltiness of those groundwater basins, those concerns are heightened whenever water is recycled.

So when a community moves ahead with plans to recycle water – as CLWA officials has been doing – the same state water officials need to see a plan on how salt and nutrients will be managed.

Salt management became part of the state’s water recycling policy in 2009.   The Policy encourages the use of recycled water from municipal wastewater sources as a safe alternative source of water supply.

Its goal is to increase the use of recycled water above 2002 levels by at least one million acre-feet per year by 2020 and at least two million AFY by 2030.  Each acre-foot of water is a little more than a football field flooded with one foot of water.

State mandates about better managing groundwater and about the need to recycle water were both born out of the latest multi-year drought and the perceived need to protect California’s most valuable and scarce resource.

Recognizing that some groundwater basins are saltier than others, state water officials thought it best to have water agency’s draft their own salt management plan rather than impose requirements on every individual recycled water project.

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