SCV Water to discuss plan to clean up well 

The Saugus Aquifer Treatment Plant removes perchlorate from groundwater at Whittaker Bermite in this 2017 Signal file photo. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency officials are expected to approve Tuesday a nearly $2 million cleanup program for a well that’s an important part of the local drinking water supply next to the Saugus Cafe on Railroad Avenue. 

Water leaders also announced this past week a separate upcoming special meeting for their regularly scheduled review of the head of the agency, General Manager Matt Stone.  

Saugus Well No. 2, which has been the subject of a number of improvement efforts in its 35 years, was identified by water officials as “a crucial containment measure to protect the drinking water aquifer,” according to an SCV Water meeting agenda.  

The well, drilled in 1988, stayed online until 1997, when it was removed from production due to evidence of perchlorate contamination, according to a staff report. 

The Saugus Perchlorate Treatment Facility was built near the well in question in the Santa Clara River in 2011, allowing the well to come back online, and in 2012, it was “rehabilitated with mechanical and chemical development and outfitted with a liner casing due to holes,” according to agency staff. 

However, water officials noted the pump has been working nonstop since, and now its flow has decreased by more than a third, from 1,100 gallons per minute to about 700, with a downhole video indicating to engineers the well has “significant plugging.” 

The project and scope of the work are not expected to impact nearby businesses or structures, according to a staff report, which lays out the multistep process for cleaning out the pump. 

The total projected cost of the contract is expected to be $1.9 million, the majority of which is for Weber Water Resources Rehabilitation ($1.4 million), with $200,000 for “additional standby time”; $240,000 for “well column pipe, shaft, etc.”; and another $60,000 for an “RCS Field Monitoring and Rehab Summary.” 

The first round involves taking out the pump’s parts for a “brushing and bailing,” and then following a video inspection a 36-hour chemical treatment of the well begins. After the flows are checked and a final disinfection is complete, the pump is expected to return to operation. 

For decades, perchlorate was used in several local manufacturing facilities as a component in the making of munitions, fireworks, flares and other explosives at the former Whittaker-Bermite site south of Soledad Canyon Road, and east of Railroad Avenue. Waste that was improperly disposed of also contributed to the problem. 

As a result, water officials identified a perchlorate contaminant plume in the SCV and several wells have tested positive for it. Now the adjacent land, which also has been the subject of a decades-long remediation effort, is involved in litigation between the city and developers over future plans for it.  

Water officials are expected to meet Tuesday at their regularly scheduled meeting to approve the agency business. The annual performance review for Stone, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, will be conducted by the governing board in closed session per state law. 

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