SCV Water: Garcia secures $2.1 million for PFAS treatment

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By Signal Staff 

As part of the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget process, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, has secured $2.1 million in funding to the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency for the agency’s treatment project planned to remove “forever chemicals” from local groundwater, SCV Water announced in a news release. 

The funds will go toward the agency’s S Wells PFAS Treatment and Disinfection Facilities project, which is planned to bring several wells back into service that have been taken offline due to contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, according to the release. 

“This is a major win for the Santa Clarita Valley and its residents,” Garcia said in the release. “These communities deserve reliable access to high-quality, affordable water, but multiple groundwater wells are currently offline because of contamination. The funding I was able to secure will help restore the local groundwater supply by treating that contamination. There is nothing more important than ensuring the health and safety of our people and communities, and I’m proud to have secured funding for a critical project that will do exactly that.” 

The congressman represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as portions of the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys. 

“SCV Water is grateful for Congressman Garcia’s effort in securing funding for this important project that will restore three groundwater wells to service,” SCV Water General Manager Matt Stone said in the release. “This funding will help the agency deliver on its mission to provide responsible water stewardship to ensure the Santa Clarita Valley has reliable supplies of high-quality water at a reasonable cost.”  

The S Wells PFAS Treatment and Disinfection Facilities project will construct a centralized ion exchange treatment facility to restore to service three groundwater wells that are offline due to PFAS contamination. The project will allow the agency to restore local groundwater supply and lessen its reliance on costly imported water, the release said. 

On March 9, President Joe Biden signed an array of bills passed by Congress to avoid a government shutdown. One such bill, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2024, includes $2.1 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for the S Wells project. 

During the process to craft the Interior-EPA Appropriations Act, which began in February 2023, SCV Water advocates in Washington, D.C., worked with Garcia to include the S Wells project as a congressionally directed spending item. In the signed act, the funds are distributed to the EPA, which will then allocate the amount to SCV Water. 

The total cost of SCV Water’s PFAS project is $16 million, and construction is scheduled to be completed early in 2026, according to SCV Water’s website. This is the second year in a row that Garcia has worked to secure federal funds to support the project: Last year, the agency was awarded a $5 million grant under the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSmart Drought Response Program. 

The S Wells are located along the Santa Clara River trail, and the groundwater treatment facility is planned at a location across from Bridgeport Park. Combined, these wells can produce up to 6,000 gallons per minute of groundwater, enough to serve the equivalent of 10,000 households annually. This will add to the two PFAS groundwater treatment facilities that have opened since November 2020, with several others in the construction or planning phases.   

PFAS has been a problem for the environment since fluorosurfactant products came into widespread use during the 1940s. The products are known to the average consumer as chemicals that create Teflon coating, “Scotchgard,” stain-proofing compounds, waxy surfaces and aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”), a firefighting agent used to control and extinguish Class B fuel fires.  

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, namely perfluorooctanoic acid (pfoa) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (pfos), are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group.  They have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years.   

“Current scientific research suggests that exposure to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health outcomes,” according to the EPA website. “However, research is still ongoing to determine how different levels of exposure to different PFAS can lead to a variety of health effects.”  

A very common characteristic of concern of PFAS, according to the EPA, is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals and the environment over time. 

More information on the S Wells project is available at yourscvwater.com/pfas/treatment-facilities/swells

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