Santa Clarita Valley’s drinking water is clean and safe to drink.
That’s the bottom line of annual state-mandated testing carried out last year on SCV’s drinking water.
The 2018 Water Quality Report reflects testing done on SCV’s drinking water when the name on the door of the water agency was still Castaic Lake Water Agency. Legislation recently consolidated local water operations in the SCV Water Agency.
Every year, the report expected by the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water.
Matt Stone, general manager of SCV Water, said in a preface to the report that he and his team ensure “a reliable and safe drinking water supply at a reasonable cost.”
“We are committed to maintaining and delivering safe drinking water,” he stated in the report.
The current report marks the first time SCV schools could voluntarily take part in testing for lead in school drinking water, which is now mandated by law.
Testing for lead
In January 2017, officials with the state’s Division of Drinking Water set up a voluntary program, inviting schools to have their water tested for lead on request. At least 15 schools in the Santa Clarita Valley took them up on their offer.
Ten schools serviced by the Santa Clarita Water Division asked for the testing, as well as four schools serviced by the Valencia Water Company, and one by the Newhall County Water District. Now all of those schools are serviced by the new Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency due to the aforementioned consolidation.
This year, it became compulsory for schools built before 2010 to have their water tested for lead content under new direction from the state superintendent of public instruction and the Legislature.
The state law, Assembly Bill 746, and the requirement from State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, calls for these schools to test their water systems for lead before Jan. 1, 2019, in order to promote public safety and prevent a range of health effects on children.
Every three years, local water retailers are required to sample for lead and copper at specific places as part of the Lead and Copper Rule. It’s also tested in groundwater and surface water.
If lead turns up in the water being tested, it becomes a concern because elevated levels of the metal can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.
The bottom line, as revealed in the tests carried out last year, no traces of lead were detected in any source waters in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“Hardness,” however, is a frequent characteristic of SCV water is its hardness.
“Calcium and magnesium make up what is known as water hardness which cause scaling,” Stone said explaining tests done on water’s metal and salt content.
In November 2008, the Valencia Water Company conducted groundbreaking water experiment called the Groundwater Softening Demonstration Project — the first of its kind in the country.
Officials monitored the water for a year for the program.
The water-softening technology removed 75 percent of the calcium in groundwater and worked like this:
Water was pumped from a well owned by the Valencia Water Company just south of Rio Norte Junior High School on the west banks of the San Francisquito Creek.
It was then fed into a truck-sized tank half-filled with fine sand to which sodium hydroxide is added.
The caustic chemical draws calcium out of the water by raising the water’s Ph, or acidic, level and then binds it to each grain of sand, producing perfectly round white calcium-coated pellets.
Keith Abercrombie, SCV Water’s chief operating officer of the Santa Clarita Valley, was asked about the project Wednesday.
“The Pellet Softening Plant is not currently operational,” he said, noting the project was only set to run temporarily, but it did garner results.
The system was successfully removing most of the calcium, which is primarily responsible for the usual hard water issues, i.e. spots on dishes, he said.
“This facility will require some upgrades/refurbishment to re-activate and we are currently reviewing what would be necessary to put it back online,” he said.
Another concern for SCV water officials is perchlorate.
A decade ago, an underground perchlorate contaminant plume was identified when several wells tested positive for perchlorate.
In October 2007, state officials set a maximum contaminant level for the amount of perchlorate in a liter of water at 6 micrograms per liter.
They permitted local water officials to build a perchlorate-treatment facility and, on Jan. 25, 2011, CLWA introduced the treated water into the distribution system in full compliance with the requirements of its amended water-supply permit.
The bottom line: None of the tests indicated unsafe levels of perchlorate in the drinking water.
Perchlorate is an inorganic chemical used in solid rocket propellant, fireworks and explosives.
For more than 40 years, it was used as a solid fuel component in the manufacture of munitions, fireworks, flares, and other explosives at the Whittaker-Bermite site located south of Soledad Canyon Parkway and east of San Fernando Road.
As a result of all those “operations,” a known perchlorate contaminant plume has been identified in the SCV, and several wells tested positive for perchlorate.
Improperly disposed of waste leaked into the groundwater and contaminated the wells.
In addition to groundwater remediation efforts, there is a cleanup effort underway on the Whittaker-Bermite property under the jurisdiction of the state’s Division of Toxic Substances Control.
In October 2007, state officials set a maximum contaminant threshold level for perchlorate at no more than 6 micrograms of perchlorate for every liter of water.
Ongoing efforts to remove the harmful chemical from groundwater got a boost last year when in April 2017 the newly completed Saugus Aquifer Treatment Plant near the Soledad Canyon road Metrolink Station began extracting from 14 wells at a rate of 500 gallons a minute.