Sanitation board reconvenes after hiatus

A vial of brine (salt solution) collected after it was extracted from the chloride in the water during the osmosis process. Dan Watson/Signal archives

Officials elected to govern the operation of Santa Clarita Valley’s sewer system get down to business next week after nearly a two-month hiatus.

The last time members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board met to discuss sewer concerns and matters related to water reclamation in the SCV was in November.

The three-member board cancelled its last two meetings, one before Christmas and the most recent meeting scheduled to have taken place Wednesday.

It is set to reconvene, however, on Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. inside the Santa Clarita City Hall.

Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, a long-standing member of the SCV Sanitation District Board, is suffering from “the flu,” she told The Signal Wednesday.

“We have no issues,” she said with a raspy voice. “A lot of the people have been sick.”

Basil Hewitt, spokesman for the Sanitation District, said Wednesday’s cancelled meeting was actually rescheduled for next week.

“As for the December meeting, it was cancelled because there were no significant items on the agenda,” he said.

The Sanitation District faces a number of challenges in the new year, including a pressing need to make up for lost time implementing its four-year chloride reduction plan.

The district was thrown off schedule last year when a local group of unhappy taxpayers filed three lawsuits questioning the veracity of claims made about the environmental impacts of the district’s plans.

Work on the project shut down in June, after a judge told sanitation officials to stop working on their chloride-reduction plan until environmental concerns were addressed.

In October, however, the same judge ruled to “partially discharge” the writ filed against the Sanitation District, thereby giving the district a green light to proceed with its four-year plan.

The Sanitation District, consequently, is back on track but now a year behind schedule.

“On October 24, the court ruled that the SCV Sanitation District can move forward with the state-mandated chloride compliance project,” sanitation district spokesman Bryan Langpap told The Signal in October.

District board members are expected to discuss this issue in closed session at their next meeting, he said, which is next Friday.



More than a decade ago, downstream farmers claimed chloride levels over 100 milligrams per liter in river water crossing the Ventura County line damaged their salt-sensitive crops like strawberries and avocados.

State water regulators ordered the local sanitation district to drastically reduce the amount of salty chloride it was discharging into the Santa Clara River.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is charged with safeguarding water quality in the Los Angeles area, heard a promise from sanitation officials in October 2013 that the plan would be put in place and benchmarks met along the way.

When a benchmark is missed, the state can fine the local Sanitation District tens of thousands of dollars as it did in November 2012, when it was ordered to pay a $225,000 fine for having failed to deliver on a prior promise.

The cost of such a fine would be paid by SCV ratepayers in rate increases imposed on anyone who uses SCV’s sewer system.

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