Two hot button issues: Chloride levels and the so-called “Stormwater Tax” can affect the pocketbooks of all Santa Clarita property owners.

California Aqueduct Cascades

Aqueduct Cascades

Los Angeles and the communities surrounding it, including the Santa Clarita Valley, has been the benefactor of positive change over the past century as a result of a forward thinking move by the then head of the Department of Water & Power, William Mulholland. After nearly a decade of planning, political maneuvering, controversial land purchases, and back breaking labor, the California Aqueduct, considered still to be an engineering marvel, opened in November 1913 to the delight of everyone who lived within the greater Los Angeles area and the surrounding communities. This opened up the area to residential development as well as having the effect of essentially redefining what crops could be grown in these communities. This feat of mankind contributed to the growth and development of the Los Angeles, San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys that continues to this day.

While the California Aqueduct brought growth and prosperity to this Southern California region, its effects on the environment, especially in the Owens Valley from where it originates, have been topics for controversy over the past 100 years, and increasingly costly as a result of lawsuits, reclamation and restoration projects.

Over the years, the collection of water, and the disposal of runoff, has brought to light issues we could never have dreamed of one hundred years ago. The United States Army Corps of Engineers began work on channelizing the Los Angeles River through the building of concrete channels in an attempt to control flooding an re-route storm water to the Pacific Ocean. While channelization reduced the risk of flooding in and around Los Angeles, it destroyed the natural watershed with no systems in place to reclaim storm water that would allow for conservation of water resources. 

The Santa Clara River: Last of its kind in Southern California

Santa Clara River Map

Santa Clara River Map

The Santa Clara river can be traced to its origin in the community of Acton, which is just south of the Angeles Forest Highway in the San Gabriel mountains from which its headwaters take drainage. It runs through the Santa Clarita Valley and follows Highway 126 through Ventura County, ending at the Pacific Ocean. It is the last natural watershed in Southern California and is home to several endangered species including the unarmored threespine stickleback, the Santa Ana sucker, and the arroyo chub.

This watershed can collect runoff from the populated communities that have developed along its path, which has created many concerns for environmentalists and Santa Clarita’s neighbors to the west.

The Santa Clara River and the Great Chloride Debate

Chloride is defined in its basic term as salt resulting from water runoff. High concentrations of chloride in waste water can have an impact on agricultural crop yields and cause issues with wildlife that relies on the watershed created by the Santa Clara River. The State of California has mandated what they consider safe chloride level limits in waste water which can result in stiff fines and penalties for the surrounding communities if these levels are not met. Waste water treatment and management in Santa Clarita is under the control of the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District (SCVSD). In the mid 90’s, salt-based soft water systems were banned in Santa Clarita homes to reduce the effects of chloride in waste water.

Even with the salt-based water softener ban in place, the SCVSD is tasked with reducing chloride levels in water runoff even further to meet updated requirements as set by the State of California. Should these limits not be met, the SCVSD can face stiff fines, or be taken over by state entities altogether. Fines and penalties may be passed on to Santa Clarita property owners in the form of taxes. As a result, the SCVSD has put together a proposal that outlines their plan to reduce waste water chloride levels in an effort to avoid penalties from the state. Santa Clarita residents are urged to provide their input and feedback, with comments closing on July 24th, 2013.

Click here to learn more about the Santa Clarita Chloride issue and its impact, and view public meeting locations for public input. 

The “Stormwater Tax”

Another issue that can affect Santa Clarita property owners is the Clean Waters, Clean Beaches Act, proposed by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. Nicknamed the “Stormwater Tax”, the Clean Waters, Clean Beaches Act is a multi-billion dollar proposal to correct environmental issues that have been caused by the channelization of the Los Angeles River including toxic runoff and water reclamation. The cost of this measure would be absorbed at least in part by all property owners in Los Angeles County. This includes residential, commercial, and public property owners.

In March of 2013, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to table the motion of voting on this act pending a completed study on this topic after a heated public debate. The proposed fee to enact this bill requires a two-step voting process; a public hearing, then a vote by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. A public hearing was held on March 12, 2013 which led to the Board of Supervisors tabling a vote for 90 days. Another hearing is scheduled this week.

Learn more about the Clean Waters, Clean Beaches Act by clicking here.

As real estate agents who live and work in the Santa Clarita Valley, Montemayor & Associates wants to insure that property owners are aware of issues that may affect their equity and/or quality of life. Our goal is to provide objective information regarding these issues that will allow you to make the best choices and decisions possible in helping maintain your community and allowing your voice to be heard. Feel free to contact us with your questions.

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