City prepares for groundwater seepage claims

Homeowner Ken Larsen used eight pumps to siphon off groundwater seeping onto his north Claremont property in April 2023. Courier photo/Steven Felschundneff

By Andrew Alonzo |

The Claremont City Council approved a motion Tuesday to enter into a joint legal defense agreement with neighboring La Verne. The move allows the cities’ shared general liability insurance carrier to retain a law firm to represent them in the claims process and any potential lawsuits resulting from groundwater seepage in the Stone Canyon neighborhood in April 2023.

In approving the recommendation from City Attorney Alisha Patterson, Claremont waived its potential legal conflicts and allowed the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority to retain Los Angeles law firm Kutak Rock LLP.

Residents of Stone Canyon, which overlaps Claremont and La Verne, filed claims October 11, 2023 against both cities as well as the Six Basins Watermaster, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Pomona Valley Protective Association, asserting they suffered property damage from the rising ground water. The claimants are being represented by Kiesel Law LLP, which did not immediately return calls asking for comment.

Reports of abnormal groundwater seepage in Stone Canyon began to roll in on April 6, 2023.

Claremont renter activists showed up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to voice their concerns as the body works to establish its 2024-2026 priorities. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

According to a April 11, 2023 city news release, Six Basins Watermaster, which manages the local watershed, reported to the city that it had been conducting spreading operations to recharge groundwater levels from what appeared to be water released from the San Antonio Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. Dam records showed water levels had decreased 20 feet within 15 days, according to the release. Six Basins also told the city that Pomona Valley Protective Association had begun adjusting the spreading operation as to divert water away from Stone Canyon.

“Like many communities in the Los Angeles basin, Claremont was built over a multitude of subterranean aquifers,” read the news release. “As a result, Claremont periodically experiences high ground water levels in numerous parts of the City.”

Claremont saw 42.24 inches of rainfall last season, which ran from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023.

“California experienced one of the wettest rainy seasons in the past 145 years,” continued the news release. “The recent high rainfall and melting snow pack has affected ground water and soil saturation levels.”


Submit a Comment

Share This