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Settlement proposed to clean area water

first_imgLANCASTER – A $4 million payment is being proposed to settle conflicts between state water regulators and sanitation district officials in Lancaster and Palmdale over whether enough progress is being made with orders to keep sewage off Air Force property and to clean up nitrates in groundwater. Under the terms of the proposal, the Los Angeles County sanitation districts in Palmdale and Lancaster would pay $4 million to the state, with the bulk of the settlement – $3.8 million – going toward a major recycled-water distribution system in the Antelope Valley. The first $152,000 will go to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Waste Discharge Permit Fund and $48,000 will go to the California Department of Justice for consultant costs associated with representing the state water boards. “The districts are still required to take actions necessary to comply with waste discharge permits, eliminate threatened nuisance conditions, clean up polluted groundwater and discharge treated wastewater in a manner that does not cause nuisance or pollution,” Lahontan Regional Water Board officials said in a statement announcing the proposed settlement. Stephen Maguin, general manager for the districts, could not be reached for comment Friday. However, earlier this week Maguin said he was optimistic the issues would be soon be resolved. In 2004, Lahontan issued a cease-and-desist order to the Lancaster district to stop treated sewage from spilling into Rosamond Dry Lake at Edwards by fall 2008. At the same time, Lahontan issued a cease-and-desist order to the sanitation district serving Palmdale, directing that it stop nitrate discharges into groundwater by fall 2009. In response to the orders and to what officials saw as a pressing need to handle growth, both districts developed 20-year plans that called for constructing new tertiary treatment plants – whose output would be safe for human contact – and storage ponds. Schedules for the completion of both treatment plants, however, have been pushed back by two years, with Lancaster now slated to be online in 2010 and Palmdale in 2011. Both districts have made progress. In Lancaster, the district has completed the design for the treatment plant, and a pipeline has been finished that will be used to carry treated water to agricultural fields. In Palmdale, the issue is groundwater quality, in particular, stopping nitrates, a pollutant that can cause a condition known as blue baby syndrome among infants. Nitrates have leaked into the underground water table from Sanitation District 20’s decades-old practice of spreading treated sewage on farming operations and barren land to soak into the ground. The land-spreading has been stopped and the district has added more acreage of agriculture to which the treated effluent can be applied. The Palmdale district also has installed six extraction wells to pull out nitrate-contaminated groundwater. Lahontan is accepting written comments on the settlement proposal, which must be submitted by April 12. Copies of it can be reviewed online at http//www.waterboards.ca.gov/Lahontan. james.skeen@dailynews (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Before the settlement becomes official, it must be accepted by the board, which will consider it during its regularly scheduled meeting March 14-15 in Lancaster. A final decision won’t occur until the board’s May 23-24 meeting. The bulk of the settlement will help fund a recycled water project that will ultimately include 38 miles of pipeline, three storage reservoirs and five pump stations that will link the wastewater-treatment plants serving Lancaster, Palmdale and Rosamond. It will provide treated water for reuse to six water districts in the valley, Lahontan officials said. At issue are two cease-and-desist orders made by Lahontan: one to the district in Lancaster to keep sewage off Edwards Air Force Base land and another to the district serving Palmdale to clean up nitrates in groundwater. Lahontan officials are questioning the delays in complying with their orders, including two-year slips in major construction projects proposed to resolve the problems. Officials for the sanitation districts called the timetables set by the orders unreasonable and challenged them in court. last_img read more