City of Santa Paula commences dispute resolution action against Santa Paula Water, LLC
Santa Paula News
Published: September 20, 2013
The City of Santa Paula has commenced a dispute resolution action against Santa Paula Water, LLC, to determine its liability for the treatment and removal of chlorides at the Santa Paula Water Recycling Facility (SPWRF). Chlorides are salts that when released into surface and groundwater could have a detrimental effect on human, animal and plant life, if not carefully controlled. The 2008 Design, Build, Operate and Finance Agreement with Santa Paula Water, an entity owned and controlled by Pacific Environmental Resources Corporation and Alinda Capitol, required the SPWRF to meet all requirements set forth by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and a Court Order issued to conclude a lawsuit against the City by the State Water Resources Control Board. These requirements mandated that the discharge from the SPWRF could not contain chlorides at levels that exceeded 100mg/l.
The SPWRF does not now and has never met the 100mg/l criterion. Because of that failure, the City faces significant penalties assessed by the State of California.
To fix the problem will cost millions of dollars.
“It is unfortunate that the designers of this facility, who in their contract said they would deal with this and other requirements, just failed to do so,” said City Manager Jaime Fontes. “They were supposed to be the experts and that’s why the City contracted with them. They signed on the dotted line and accepted the responsibility to make sure that the City was going to be in compliance. Now the City is left to deal with this issue,” said Mr. Fontes. Fontes continued, “When the next round of fee increases occurs in a couple of months as a result of this agreement entered in 2008, we want the people of Santa Paula to know that we are fighting to get them rate relief.”
Under the Agreement, the parties must enter into arbitration to settle such disputes. The parties have begun the selection process for the arbitrator who will ultimately resolve the issue.