Simi Valley City Council 2006

The following two excerpts are noted in “Spin Cycle – Simi Council sells disturbing Runkle Canyon pollution report as clean” in the August 23, 2007 issue of Los Angeles CityBeat. The statements of Assistant City Manager Laura Behjan, reporting for staff, seem to indicate a disconnect between the city’s understanding of the nature of Runkle Canyon water versus what their own Tetra Tech report says. Clearly, from the report and photos taken in wetter years, the water in Runkle Canyon makes it’s way into the Arroyo Simi and groundwater which is used to make up 20 percent of the city’s supply.

The second excerpt is even more bizarre. Councilman Becerra demands the July 2 sampling results of the Radiation Rangers, and is supported by others on dais, including Mayor Miller. Trouble is that the Rangers took no samples that day simply because it was a city-organized event where the Rangers were allowed one person to attend, the Rev. John Southwick, who guided the group to approximately the same location the Rangers tested May 18. Photos show the mayor, city manager, assistant city manager, a council member and others at the July 2 sampling yet the “Good Reverend John,” as he is known to the Radiation Rangers, doesn’t seem to packing any hidden sampling bottles.

One can draw their own conclusions about city officials characterizing troubling testing results as somehow indicative of a clean canyon. It is an entirely different matter when these officials can’t seem to read their own reports correctly, can’t figure out which way the water flows literally, and demand the results of phantom tests never taken in order to cast aspersions on a citizens group. Maybe it’s something in the water…


Assistant City Manager Laura Behjan: “The conclusion that they reached, which was based on a limited sampling, of just those three areas, is that assuming that these results are consistent and representative of metals concentrations at what you would otherwise find throughout the site, that incidental exposure to the soil and water on that site would not pose a public health risk. Now the consultant did note that there were some levels of constituents that were above drinking water standards. They did make note, however, that the water on that site is not intended to be a drinking water source.”

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Sojka: “Could you repeat that because that’s a key point because I keep hearing from some of these people… they compare it to the tap water.”

Behjan: “Yes, one of the standards they compared against [was] the MCLs which are standards set for drinking water.”

Sojka: “So if we were going to use that water to give to our residents to drink then it wouldn’t be safe.”

Behjan: “That is correct. That is correct.”

Sojka: “But we’re not.”

Behjan: “No. That water is not intended to be used as a drinking water source. And then in regard to the soil concentration…”

This contention that Runkle Canyon water isn’t a source for drinking water is contradicted on page E-1 of the Tetra Tech report for the City of Simi Valley:

“The Basin Plan indicates that the beneficial uses for the surface water of the Site area watershed are Municipal and Domestic Supply, Industrial Service Supply, Groundwater Recharge, Freshwater Replenishment, Water Contact Recreation, Non-contact Water Recreation, Warm Fresh Water Habitat, and Wildlife Habitat. Potential human consumption of surface water is reasonably possible under the Municipal and Domestic Supply, Water Contact Recreation, and Non-contact Water Recreation beneficial use scenarios. In these types of situations, water quality criteria, such as the MCLs, PRGs, PHGs, and NLs, may be used as screening values to determine whether further
evaluation of surface water may need to be considered.”


Sojka: “Is [pollution] coming from Rocketdyne?”

Behjan: “From my read of the report, and what I’ve been able to glean from the report, I don’t see that the consultant is making any connection to Rocketdyne. They do, however, a caveat (sic) that this is a limited scope study that’s been done to this point.”

Council member Greg Becerra: “Mr. Mayor, we’re waiting still to see what – my understanding is that there were three samples that were collected by the same lab that did the citizens’ sample in the first place. Is that correct? And each one of those samples was collected professionally. The citizens took one sample, KB took a sample, and we took a sample and all three of those samples were tested independently, is that correct?”

City Manager Mike Sedell: “Laura?”

Behjan: “At the July 2nd sampling event?”

Becerra: “Correct.”

Behjan: “We went out. We had a lab tech from Pat-Chem labs, which was the lab that had done the testing that the residents had commissioned in May. That same lab tech took samples of water. He split them then into two containers. One went back to his lab, Pat-Chem, and one went to another lab so that there were two labs testing samples.”

Sidell: “But at the same time, KB was there and …”

Behjan: “Additionally KB had a consulting firm with them who also took samples in the same location and they did a report as well.”

Becerra: “So our samples were the same as the residents’ samples, collected by the same group? Not KB’s but ours.”

Behjan: “Collected by the same lab, yes.”

Becerra: “Okay, have we seen… our report is up on city’s website for everybody to review. Have we seen the report from the citizens’ second test?”

Sidell: “Laura, have you seen that?”

Becerra: “Has that been provided to the city?”

Behjan: “You mean the test they did in May?”

Becerra: “No no no — they took samples at the same time we did…”

Sidell: “Split samples.”

Becerra: “… we did. Did they conduct further tests…?”

Behjan: “No I have not seen that; I’m not aware of what they did with those.”

Becerra: “Can you check and see if theirs came back and I also would like to see what KB’s came back like. Obviously I’m more interested in what the residents and ours came back like because they are collected by the same person, from the same lab. But it would be, I would like to see what kind of comparison and if they came back with the same results, the same outcomes.”

Council Member Barbra Williamson: “And Glen, the KB person who took tests took it from exactly the same place too.”

Sidell: “Same place, same time.”

Williamson: “So there’s three different samples that were taken from the same place.”

Becerra: “Mr. Mayor, you were there during all that time when all those were collected?

Mayor Paul Miller: “Yeah.”

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