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Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Chloride Compliance
MEETING STATE-MANDATED CHLORIDE (SALT) LIMITS IN THE SANTA CLARITA VALLEY
The SCVSD, the public agency responsible for treating the SCV’s wastewater (sewage), has spent more than ten years attempting to achieve the most reasonable chloride limit possible and develop the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible solution to meeting the State-mandated chloride limit for the SCV. In October 2013, after nearly two years of extensive public input, meetings, hearings, and environmental review, the SCVSD Board of Directors approved a project to comply with the State-mandated chloride limit and certified the associated Environmental Impact Report (2013 EIR).
Recommended Chloride Compliance Project
The chloride compliance project includes new reverse osmosis equipment at Santa Clarita’s Valencia Water Reclamation Plant (WRP). The water that has passed through a reverse osmosis membrane becomes ultra-clean water and the remaining salty water becomes a byproduct called brine that requires proper disposal. The brine would be managed with enhanced brine concentration equipment at the Valencia WRP and limited trucking of concentrated brine to an existing industrial facility, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts’ Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson. A Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for Brine Concentration and Limited Trucking (Trucking SEIR) was prepared to describe the environmental impacts from this brine management approach. On March 23, 2016, the SCVSD Board of Directors certified the Final Trucking SEIR as complying with CEQA and approved the brine management approach.
Reduced Discharge to River
The approved project in the 2013 EIR also contained a component titled “Support for Municipal Reuse of Recycled Water” that involved reducing WRP discharges of recycled water to the Santa Clara River so that more recycled water could be reused by the community (Recycled Water Project). The 2013 EIR contained an analysis of the potential environmental impacts to biological resources, including an endangered fish known as the unarmored threespine stickleback (stickleback), that could occur due to a proposed one-third reduction in discharge. This analysis concluded that no significant impact would occur.
2016 Court Rulings
The 2013 EIR was challenged in court. While the Trucking SEIR was being finalized, the Los Angeles County Superior Court issued a ruling on the adequacy of the 2013 EIR. The Court found that two aspects of the 2013 EIR did not fully comply with CEQA. First, the Court directed the SCVSD to conduct additional environmental study on potential impacts to stickleback. Second, the Court considered the SCVSD’s pursuit of the trucking method of brine management to be an “abandonment” of the method approved in the 2013 EIR, leaving the SCVSD with an incomplete chloride compliance project. The Court did not find fault with the environmental review related to the chloride compliance project components. The Court, nonetheless, set aside the 2013 EIR and related approvals until the SCVSD addresses both issues. With the March 23, 2016 certification of the Trucking SEIR and approval of a new brine management approach, the SCVSD addressed the Court’s second issue. The SCVSD Board also recertified the 2013 Facilities Plan and EIR without the Recycled Water Project to address the Court’s first issue.
Following the February ruling, SCVSD returned to the Court in April 2016 seeking approval to proceed with the Chloride Compliance Project while deferring implementation of the Recycled Water Project until further stickleback study could be completed. The Court determined that the SCVSD could not do so because it had not studied the impacts of implementing the Chloride Compliance Project separate from the Recycled Water Project, thereby delaying compliance with state chloride mandates to improve water quality.
2016 NOP for a Supplemental EIR on Stickleback
On August 4, 2016, SCVSD issued a Notice of Preparation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report of Impacts to the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback Fish under Reduced Discharge Conditions from the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District’s Water Reclamation Plants (Stickleback SEIR). The intent of the Stickleback SEIR was to maintain support of both the Chloride Compliance Project and the Recycled Water project under one CEQA document record. Since August, SCVSD and California Department of Fish and Wildlife have been working together to determine the appropriate criteria for analyzing impacts to stickleback. Based on the progress of these discussions and the projected work remaining to complete the study, to minimize fines to ratepayers, SCVSD has decided to pursue the Recycled Water Project separately from the Chloride Compliance Project and recirculate the EIR.
In response to the most recent Court ruling with regard to the Chloride Compliance Project, SCVSD is recirculating a revised version of the 2013 Chloride Compliance EIR. The Notice of Preparation (available here) provides a description of the Chloride Compliance Project, including approval history. This process will include ample opportunity for public comment, including public hearings.
SCVSD intends to continue study of stickleback habitat for a future CEQA document in support of the Recycled Water Project.
For More Information
l For questions or to be added to our mailing list, please email Ms. Jodie Lanza at email@example.com or call
(562) 908-4288, extension 2707.
l The Notice of Preparation for the Recirculated EIR can be found here.
l The 2013 EIR can be found here.
l The Trucking SEIR can be found here.
l More information about the recent court rulings can be found here.