Residents of Santa Clarita, Calif., are in luck: the local water authority is opening a new water treatment facility to deal with the levels of perchlorate in parts of the local groundwater supply.
Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, announced the change, saying that the plan was to make three local wells — Saugus 1, Saugus 2 and V-201 — usable again. V-201 was the well impacted with the perchlorate, said Masnada.
Perchlorates are the salts of ammonium, potassium, magnesium and sodium, often manufactured in the United States as ammonium perchlorate. The substance is used by many industries but found most commonly as an oxidizer to increase solid rocket fuel energy.
The cost to remediate the V-201 well will be covered by the Whittaker-Bermite Corporation, which Masnada said is the agency liable for the contamination. The water agency reached a settlement with the corporation several years ago.
Castiac Lake Water Agency entered into the settlement because of perchlorate detected in the Saugus 1 and 2 wells. Although they installed removal treatments into the wells, Brian Folsom, the agency’s manager of Engineering and Operations, stated, “There was some concern that [the perchlorate] might eventually get there.”
So far, officials have stated that nothing new has passed through the V-201 well; anything that passed through Saugus 1 and 2 should have been caught by V-201.
Because the Whittaker-Bermite Corporation made fireworks, ammunition and missiles in the Santa Clarita Valley for almost 60 years, the perchlorate they produced eventually sunk into the ground and affected the groundwater. The contamination resulted in the closures of the Saugus 1 and 2 wells in 1997 and the V-201 well in 2010.
SCV History reports that as much as 70 billion gallons of water in Santa Clarita has been tainted with perchlorate and the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, among other contaminants. Perchlorate can have negative effects on the thyroid gland in humans, which is used to release hormones to regulate adult metabolisms and promote growth in children and the development of the fetus.
Although Folsom told reporters that the contaminant likely never reached the V-205 well downstream, the agency is continuing to monitor surrounding wells and treat those contaminated with perchlorate.