Plans to connect with a facility in order to reduce the amount of chloride expected from 6,000 Newhall Ranch homes once they’re built got a thumbs-up approval Friday from the local sanitation board.
The three members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board voted unanimously in favor of a deal with Newhall Land and Farming to help each other reduce the amount of salty chloride discharged into the river.
The agreement calls for Newhall Land to build a chloride-reducing plant that would take in a portion of the water treated and released by the Valencia Water Reclamation plant, purify it by removing chloride and then send it back the District cleaner that it was before.
The new plant is expected to be built across the street from the district’s Valencia Water Reclamation Plant on the Old Road, near the Rye Canyon T-intersection, sandwiched between The Old Road and the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, north of the Jack-in-the-Box and south of the California Highway Patrol station.
By agreeing to the deal, the Sanitation District will allow Newhall Land to connect to pipes at its water reclamation plant. The developer of the project is now called Five Point; however, the plan’s approval was granted to Newhall Land, which is why all documentation referring to the plan uses the developer’s previous name.
Newhall Land would construct and operate its facility on Newhall property near the Valencia treatment plant at no cost to the district, according to the plan.
The deal between district and developer is called the Interim Demineralization Facility Operations Agreement.
When the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved the Newhall Ranch project in 2012, it was on the condition that chloride generated by 6,000 new homeowners in Newhall Ranch would be treated by the developer at its own specially built salt-removing facility.
Board members observed Friday that the plant will benefit not only the District but benefit the environment as well by improving the quality of treated water discharged to the Santa Clara River.
In March, developers building 21,000 homes for Newhall Ranch were given permission to install pipes linking Newhall Ranch Sanitation District to the SCV Sanitation sewer system.
“The developer needs to provide that there will be a system in place by the time the first toilet flushes,” Ray Tremblay, spokesman for the Newhall Ranch Sanitation District, told The Signal in March.
Similarly, Newhall’s chloride-removing plant must be up and running before the first Newhall Ranch house is occupied in Mission Village.
Mission Village and Landmark Village are the first two villages within the approved Newhall Ranch Specific Plan, which were originally approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2012.
The Landmark Village community will be developed on 293 acres within Newhall Ranch and contain up to 1,444 residential units, approximately 1 million square feet of mixed-use commercial space as well as an elementary school and park.
Mission Village will be developed on 1,262 acres and contain up to 4,055 residential units and 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use commercial space, along with an elementary school, fire station and public library, among other uses.
Within the next two years, homeowners are expected to move into Mission Village homes.
Newhall’s Interim Demineralization Facility is expected to begin treating water slowly at first, treating larger amounts of water as the new homes are built, Tremblay told The Signal Friday.
Ensuring that chloride levels in water discharged into the Santa Clara River has been an ongoing struggle for Sanitation officials.
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.
Under the federal Clean Water Act passed in 1972, downstream “beneficial users” of the Santa Clara River, such as Ventura County farmers growing salt-sensitive strawberries and avocados, are entitled to uncontaminated river water.
Since 2002, state water regulators have defined “uncontaminated water” as containing no more than 100 milligrams of chloride per liter in the Santa Clara River.
Allowable chloride levels vary throughout the state, but few in the state are lower than 100 mg/L.
For the past 13 years, Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District staffers have wrestled with various ways of meeting the 100 mg/L level for the naturally occurring component of common table salt.