Well V-205, located near McBean Parkway and Valencia Blvd., was voluntarily removed from service in April 2012 when perchlorate was detected in low concentrations, below the Detection Level for Reporting (DLR). This month, testing returned perchlorate levels of 6.1 micrograms per liter – slightly above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 6.0 micrograms per liter for perchlorate in drinking water.  The MCL is the level at which treatment action becomes necessary or a supply needs to be removed from service.  This well was taken out of service long before the levels reached the MCL.

“This wasn’t a surprise,” said Jim Leserman, senior engineer and project manager for the perchlorate remediation program for SCV Water. “Well V-205 has been subject to continuous monitoring, and a nearby well, V-201, was taken offline in April 2010 due to perchlorate.”

Water from this well has not been distributed since 2012.

“Treatment to remove perchlorate is an established and proven technology” said Leserman. “We will evaluate the problem posed by the increased concentration and implement a solution, which could include a restoration plan that will treat V-205 in a manner similar to V-201.”    

The treatment projects do not fully offset the capacity lost, so two replacement wells are also planned west of Interstate 5, which will be funded as part of the terms of a legal settlement with the responsible parties.

Since first detected in groundwater wells in the Santa Clarita Valley in 1997, the predecessors to the new SCV Water (formerly Newhall County Water District, Santa Clarita Water Division, Valencia Water Company and Castaic Lake Water Agency) have worked diligently with state environmental and health regulators to address the problem and seek reimbursement for groundwater cleanup and replacement water supply costs from responsible parties, the Whittaker Corporation and its insurers.

Through extensive technical investigations, best practices were identified for control strategies, as well as the most effective and least costly treatment processes. The result is the state-of-the-art Saugus Perchlorate Treatment Facility (SPTF), utilizing a single-pass ion exchange process.  The SPTF is located near the Lowe’s off Bouquet Canyon Road, at the same location as SCV Water’s Rio Vista Intake Pump Station. It began delivering treated groundwater in January 2011.  As of December 31, 2017, the facility has removed, treated and returned over 7 billion gallons (over 22,000 acre-feet) of groundwater for beneficial use.

SCV Water has vigorously pursued treatment, as well as payment from Whittaker-Bermite.  

Perchlorate was used as a solid fuel component in the manufacture of munitions, fireworks, flares, and other explosives at the Whittaker-Bermite site located south of Soledad Canyon Parkway and east of San Fernando Road (Railroad Avenue) for approximately forty years.  Improperly disposed waste leaked into the groundwater and contaminated the wells.  In addition to groundwater remediation efforts, there is a cleanup effort underway on the Whittaker-Bermite property under the jurisdiction of the State Division of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Once used as a medication to treat overactive thyroid glands, perchlorate can impair the function of normal and underactive thyroids.  It has also been linked to problems with fetal development in pregnant woman. 

For more information, visit the Whittaker Bermite Information website, maintained by the City of Santa Clarita:  www.whittakerbermite.com.