Is brine a potential problem for Big Bear agencies? Feb. 27, 2019

Baldwin Lake is covered in snow and ice Feb. 23 following a snow storm.

The 2019 winter season for the Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency is getting a little salty. Salty, that is, as in higher levels of chloride in the flow coming into the plant.

BBARWA General Manager David Lawrence believes the chloride is coming from the brine that Caltrans has been using to treat the state roads in the Big Bear area. Brine, which is a solution of salt mixed with water, is a substance Caltrans is using more because it is easier on the environment than rock salt. Caltrans District 8 also uses cinders, which are crushed lava rock.

One may think it’s not a concern for chloride to flow into a treatment plant, but Lawrence sets the record straight. “We have certain limitations of 58 to 59 miligrams per liter in chloride,” Lawrence said. “We saw levels in the 90s, so we had to report that we were out of compliance.”

If salt levels in treated wastewater are above the legal limit set by the state of California, treatment facilities could be issued steep fines and may have to upgrade facilities.

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