Santa Ynez water board looks at contamination, supply fixes

(SANTA BARBARA, CA – September 24, 2014) – The board of trustees of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District No. 1, explored water treatment options and water supply alternatives during a public workshop at the Santa Ynez Inn Tuesday.

Representatives of Hazen & Sawyer presented a feasibility study for restoring groundwater affected by chromium-6.

Recent state regulations that require lowering the naturally occurring element from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, along with critical drought conditions, have delivered a double whammy to water agencies.

The chromium-6 regulation has forced the district to shut down a portion of its wells, causing tight water supplies and causing some areas of the district to approach low water pressure.

The study’s team outlined six alternatives, including blending water from multiple wells and separate piping for irrigation water.

“We sat down and thought of every possible solution that could really be attacked, from the do-nothing alternative and all the way to the do-everything alternative, to get the maximum water supply and everything in between,” said Nicole Blute, project manager for Hazen & Sawyer.

Each alternative could not achieve the highest efficiency or water supply objectives, Ms. Blute said, so the team’s study packages them into three “complete” options that would both assure water quality as well as water production.

The first option calls for construction of five water treatment plants at a cost of $5.1 million per year. The option would give Improvement District No. 1 the most water supply and water quality benefits.

The second option involves construction of two treatment facilities along with the blending of certain wells that have chromium-6 levels near the state standard with low chromium-6 water supplies. The option would cost $3.4 million per year.

The final option was the least expensive, at an estimated $2.3 million per year, and involves building one new treatment facility, blending water and some well modification. However, that option would result in a lower water production, said Lynn Grijalva, vice president of Hazen & Sawyer.

The board is expected to discuss the options and direct staff to go ahead with one of them at its Oct. 21 meeting.

Excerpted from the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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