Contractors hired to install ultraviolet technology to treat water

Reverse Osmosis technology. photo courtesy the SCV Sanitation District.

State-of-the-art water-treating technology that involves ultraviolet disinfection left sanitation board members giddy with excitement on Thursday when they agreed to pay contractors nearly $24 million to put it in place.

The three members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District board met Thursday morning at City Hall and unanimously approved six recommendations moving forward on various aspects of its four-year chloride compliance project.

The water-treating aspect that got board members most excited, however, was the prospect of installing ultraviolet technology that would disinfect water and reduce the use of chemical disinfectants.

“I am very excited to move this item,” said board member Cameron Smyth, referring to a recommendation to hire contractors to begin installing ultraviolet disinfection equipment at both SCV water reclamation plants.

“This is why we signed up for this job. This is why we serve on this board,” he said.

Fellow board member Laurene Weste echoed his sentiments, saying: “I’m thrilled to be approving this.”

Disinfecting water treated at both plants with ultraviolet technology will lower the amount of chemical disinfectants such as chloramines that end up in the Santa Clara River, she said.

“By converting to ultraviolet technology, we will have very safe technology that eliminates harsh chemicals we normally use,” Weste said after the meeting.

“This is a very 21st century move for us,” she said.

Grace Robinson Hyde, the sanitation district’s chief engineer and general manager, was at the meeting to answer any technical questions board members might have.

“This is our first state-of-the-art use of ultraviolet disinfection,” she told the board.

Board members agreed to pay Stanek Contractors Inc. about $6.73 million to build UV disinfection facilities at the Saugus Water Reclamation Plant and to pay Myers and Sons Construction LLC about $17.08 million to built the same facilities for the larger Valencia Water Reclamation Plant.

“UV disinfection will reduce the chlorine loading at both Saugus and Valencia Water Reclamation Plants by up to 7 milligrams per liter and reduce the formation of undesirable disinfection byproducts that result from chlorination,” said Basil Hewitt, spokesman for the Sanitation District.

“This reduction would assist in complying with the state-mandated chloride (salt) limit for our effluent discharged to the Santa Clara River and would benefit public health,” he said.

Also, on Thursday, the board agreed to put out bids for Valencia Water Reclamation plant construction, which involves the use of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration technologies to take the chloride out of water discharged into the Santa Clara River.

More than a decade ago, downstream farmers in Ventura County 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 effluent it was discharging into the Santa Clara River.

For the past 13 years, Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District staffers have wrestled with various ways of meeting the 100 milligrams per liter level for the naturally occurring component of common table salt.

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.

The Sanitation District has until July 2019 to have its chloride compliance project in place.

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