Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency officials virtually celebrated Monday the completion of a new water treatment plant, next to the William S. Hart Pony Baseball & Softball park, which is meant to restore groundwater affected by a suspected manmade carcinogen.
“Our top priority is our customers. This new treatment facility is an investment in our long-term water supply and is providing safe, high-quality water to thousands of Santa Clarita Valley residents,” said SCV Water’s General Manager Matt Stone. “Our SCV Water team is also hard at work to bring additional treatment facilities online.”
The plant, located adjacent to the Hart fields parking lot, is considered one of the first in California that combats per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from groundwater — the first of potentially two others expected to be in full operation by 2022, according to officials.
With annual operating costs of about $600,000, the new facility provides sufficient water for 5,000 households in the SCV and, with two more plants in the coming years, 4,000 more households will be provided water every year.
Officials also announced that three wells previously impacted by PFAS have also returned for service, costing upwards of $6 million, according to Mike Alvord, director of operations and maintenance for the agency.
“Restoring this water supply is accomplished through an ion exchange process, which absorbs the PFAS chemicals, removing it from the water,” he said. “The water flows through these six vessels that are filled with this resin, goes through a series of pumps and motors and enters a very sophisticated chloramination disinfection facility, which uses self-generated chlorine mixed with ammonia to disinfect our drinking water. This process, which uses chloramines, reduces the amount of disinfection byproducts and has fewer taste and odor problems as we are wrapping up construction at this facility.”
Completion comes after the agency commenced work a year ago to remove PFAS from the groundwater in the Santa Clara River. The human-made chemicals are found in a wide range of products used by consumers and industries, such as carpets, nonstick cookware and paper food packaging, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“SCV Water and other water agencies did not put these chemicals into our water, but over time very small amounts may enter our groundwater supplies through manufacturing and product use and wastewater discharge, which are all potential sources for PFAS,” said an agency video played during a virtual ribbon-cutting event.
In August 2019, officials found trace amounts of PFAS in 17 of its wells, requiring them to notify key agencies about the discovery. The trace amounts were so minuscule that none of the wells required being shut down under state-set guidelines.
At the time, water officials voiced concern over what to do if the state lowered the threshold for contamination to a point where the wells could possibly shut down. The board decided at the time to get the necessary water treatment equipment up and running as soon as possible rather than wait for the state.