State of SCV’s drink­ing wa­ter: safe and clean

Test­ing for lo­cal schools, hard­ness of wa­ter brought up in 2018 re­port

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Holt Sig­nal Se­nior Staff Writer

Santa Clarita Val­ley’s drink­ing wa­ter is clean and safe to drink.

That’s the bot­tom line of an­nual state-man­dated test­ing car­ried out last year on SCV’s drink­ing wa­ter.

The 2018 Wa­ter Qual­ity Re­port re­flects test­ing done on SCV’s drink­ing wa­ter when the name on the door of the wa­ter agency was still Cas­taic Lake Wa­ter Agency. Leg­is­la­tion re­cently con­sol­i­dated lo­cal wa­ter op­er­a­tions in the SCV Wa­ter Agency.

Ev­ery year, the re­port is cre­ated for the State Wa­ter Re­sources Con­trol Board’s Di­vi­sion of Drink­ing Wa­ter.

Matt Stone, gen­eral man­ager of SCV Wa­ter, said in a pref­ace to the re­port that he and his team en­sure “a re­li­able and safe drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply at a rea­son­able cost.”

“We are com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing and de­liv­er­ing safe drink­ing wa­ter,” he stated in the re­port.

The cur­rent re­port marks the first time SCV schools could vol­un­tar­ily take part in test­ing for lead in school drink­ing wa­ter, which is now man­dated by law.

Test­ing for lead

In Jan­uary 2017, of­fi­cials with the state’s Di­vi­sion of Drink­ing Wa­ter set up a vol­un­tary pro­gram, invit­ing schools to have their wa­ter tested for lead on re­quest. At least 15 schools in the Santa Clarita Val­ley took them up on their of­fer.

Ten schools ser­viced by the Santa Clarita Wa­ter Di­vi­sion asked for the test­ing, as well as four schools ser­viced by the Va­len­cia Wa­ter Co., and one by the Ne­whall County Wa­ter Dis­trict. Now all of those schools are ser­viced by the new Santa Clarita Val­ley Wa­ter Agency due to the afore­men­tioned con­sol­i­da­tion.

This year, it be­came com­pul­sory for schools built be­fore 2010 to have their wa­ter tested for lead con­tent un­der new di­rec­tion from the state su­per­in­ten­dent of public in­struc­tion and the Leg­is­la­ture.

The state law, As­sem­bly Bill 746, and the re­quire­ment from State Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom Tor­lak­son, calls for these schools to test their wa­ter sys­tems for lead be­fore Jan. 1, 2019, in or­der to pro­mote public safety and pre­vent a range of health ef­fects on chil­dren.

Ev­ery three years, lo­cal wa­ter re­tail­ers are re­quired to sam­ple for lead and cop­per at spe­cific places as part of the fed­eral Lead and Cop­per Rule. It’s also tested in ground­wa­ter and sur­face wa­ter.

If lead turns up in the wa­ter be­ing tested, it be­comes a con­cern be­cause el­e­vated lev­els of the metal can cause se­ri­ous health prob­lems, es­pe­cially for preg­nant women and young chil­dren.

The bot­tom line, as re­vealed in the tests car­ried out last year: No traces of lead were de­tected in any wa­ter sources in the Santa Clarita Val­ley.

“Hard­ness,” how­ever, is a fre­quent char­ac­ter­is­tic of SCV wa­ter.

Hard­ness

“Cal­cium and mag­ne­sium make up what is known as wa­ter hard­ness, which cause scal­ing,” Stone said, ex­plain­ing tests done on wa­ter’s metal and salt con­tent.

In Novem­ber 2008, the Va­len­cia Wa­ter Co. con­ducted a ground­break­ing wa­ter ex­per­i­ment called the Ground­wa­ter Soft­en­ing Demon­stra­tion Project — the first of its kind in the coun­try.

Of­fi­cials mon­i­tored the wa­ter for a year un­der the pro­gram.

The wa­ter-soft­en­ing tech­nol­ogy re­moved 75 per­cent of the cal­cium in ground­wa­ter and worked like this:

Wa­ter was pumped from a well owned by the Va­len­cia Wa­ter Co. just south of Rio Norte Ju­nior High School on the west banks of the San Fran­cisquito Creek.

It was then fed into a truck-sized tank half-filled with fine sand, to which sodium hy­drox­ide was added.

The caus­tic chem­i­cal draws cal­cium out of the wa­ter by rais­ing the wa­ter’s Ph, or acidic level, and then binds it to each grain of sand, pro­duc­ing per­fectly round white cal­cium-coated pellets.

Keith Aber­crom­bie, SCV Wa­ter’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the Santa Clarita Val­ley, was asked about the project Wed­nes­day.

“The pel­let soft­en­ing plant is not cur­rently op­er­a­tional,” he said, not­ing the project was only set to run tem­po­rar­ily, but it did gar­ner re­sults.

The sys­tem was suc­cess­fully re­mov­ing most of the cal­cium, which is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for the usual hard wa­ter is­sues, i.e. spots on dishes, he said.

“This fa­cil­ity will re­quire some up­grades/re­fur­bish­ment to re-ac­ti­vate and we are cur­rently re­view­ing what would be nec­es­sary to put it back on­line,” he said.

Another con­cern for SCV wa­ter of­fi­cials is per­chlo­rate.

Per­chlo­rate

A decade ago, an un­der­ground per­chlo­rate con­tam­i­nant plume was iden­ti­fied when sev­eral wells tested pos­i­tive for per­chlo­rate.

In Oc­to­ber 2007, state of­fi­cials set a max­i­mum con­tam­i­nant level for the amount of per­chlo­rate in a liter of wa­ter at 6 mi­cro­grams per liter.

They per­mit­ted lo­cal wa­ter of­fi­cials to build a per­chlo­rate-treat­ment fa­cil­ity and, on Jan. 25, 2011, CLWA in­tro­duced the treated wa­ter into the dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem in full com­pli­ance with the re­quire­ments of its amended wa­ter-sup­ply per­mit.

The bot­tom line: None of the tests in­di­cated un­safe lev­els of per­chlo­rate in the drink­ing wa­ter.

Per­chlo­rate is an in­or­ganic chem­i­cal used in solid rocket pro­pel­lant, fire­works and ex­plo­sives.

For more than 40 years, it was used as a solid fuel com­po­nent in the man­u­fac­ture of mu­ni­tions, fire­works, flares and other ex­plo­sives at the Whit­tak­erBer­mite site lo­cated south of Soledad Canyon Road and east of San Fer­nando Road.

Im­prop­erly dis­posed of waste leaked into the ground­wa­ter and con­tam­i­nated the wells. As a re­sult, a per­chlo­rate con­tam­i­nant plume was iden­ti­fied and sev­eral wells tested pos­i­tive for per­chlo­rate and were sub­se­quently closed.

In ad­di­tion to ground­wa­ter re­me­di­a­tion ef­forts, there is a cleanup ef­fort un­der­way on the Whit­tak­erBer­mite prop­erty un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the state’s Di­vi­sion of Toxic Sub­stances Con­trol.

On­go­ing ef­forts to re­move the harm­ful chem­i­cal from ground­wa­ter got a boost last year when in April 2017 the newly com­pleted Sau­gus Aquifer Treat­ment Plant near the Soledad Canyon Road Metrolink Sta­tion be­gan ex­tract­ing from 14 wells at a rate of 500 gal­lons a minute.

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