Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Looks At Brine Trucking, Public Opinion -- September 17, 2015

A notice of preparation for an environmental review is being released Friday for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District’s new chloride compliance plan to possibly truck brine out of the community to a water treatment plant in Carson.

Last year, a plan was approved by board members in 2013 to install a brine deep well injection site in Stevenson Ranch near the Valencia TPC golf course. That plan fell through after protest from Santa Clarita Valley residents.

“The community voiced deep concerns about deep well injections with such a level of push back,” said Phil Friess, head of Technical Services of the district. “Our directors gave us direction to look for other locations away from homes and look for other technologies.”

Brine is the salt removed from chloride which is added to water through soaps and other household chemicals.

“We came back to our directors and said ‘we can’t implement deep well injection at another location or a pipeline to the ocean by July 1, 2019,’” Friess said.

In May of 2015, the SCVSD board members voted to OK an approximately $130 million plan to truck brine out of the Santa Clarita Valley.

About six truckloads of brine, with a maximum of 10, would be driven during off-peak hours to the proposed facility, Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson, which treats wastewater from much of the Los Angeles Basin, over 270 million gallons per day, and discharges to the ocean, according to a news release.

July 1, 2019 is the date, set by the state, when the chloride compliance plan must be implemented or the SCVSD would face a $2,000,000 minimum annual fine, which would be paid for by Santa Clarita Valley residents, until a chloride compliance plan is implemented, Friess said.

“We decided to look into putting more treatement equipment in to further concentrate the brine and tuck it away,” he added.

Friday’s notice of preparation is the first step in beginning the supplemental environmental review and public review process for the chloride compliance plan.

Public input meetings are planned to be held Oct. 1 at 1:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. at the

Santa Clarita Activities Center. Another meeting will be held Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Stevenson Ranch Elementary School.

“That’s really just the first round of public meetings,” said Bryan Langpap, SCVSD supervising engineer of the Planning Section. “Once we have done our work and released the draft document for public, there will be another round of public meetings and for public feedback.”

The proposed plan will require additional studies, officials said.

A Supplemental EIR process is expected to begin this month to analyze the environmental impacts of the proposed brine concentration equipment at the Valencia WRP and the limited trucking operation, according to a news release. This process will include ample opportunity for public comment, including information meetings and hearings.

The draft EIR is expected to come out in January 2016.

The approved chloride compliance project would add advanced treatment equipment to the Valencia WRP to reduce chloride levels in the SCV’s treated wastewater, according to a news release. Part of the advanced treatment equipment is reverse osmosis, which works by using pressure to push water through a membrane with microscopic openings.

The water that has passed through the reverse osmosis membrane becomes ultra-clean water and the remaining salty water becomes a byproduct called brine that requires proper disposal, according to the news release.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District is the public agency responsible for treating the SCV’s wastewater out of two plants: the Saugus Water Reclamation Plant and Valencia Water Reclamation Plant, according to a news release. These plants release highly treated water into the Santa Clara River.

Treated water must pass through several state and federal requirements, according to a news release. In 2002, a chloride level limit was implemented and SCVSD officials worked for 10 years to find a plan that would “achieve the most reasonable chloride limit possible and develop the most cost-effective and environmentally-responsible solution.”

Officials project the cost will be about $130 million, the same as the previous plan which included a deep well injection site that was turned down by residents, but with higher annual operating costs, officials said. Customer rates are expected to remain the same until June 2020.

“We believe we have identified a really good solution for the community,” Friess said, “and we hope to gain the community’s support for the solution.”