Three Valleys well draws concern from nearby residents

Residents got their first look at renderings of an upcoming water well in northeast Claremont.

Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which harvests and distributes water to multiple cities throughout the region, is planning to build its new well at the intersection of Miramar and Grand Avenues.

Last Wednesday’s meeting was strictly about the aesthetics of the MiraGrand well—how it would look relative to the neighborhood around it. But some residents shared concerns, regarding the look of the property, the possible noise the well might make and how it would affect property values.

The MiraGrand well has generated controversy, with some nearby residents claiming they weren’t properly notified about the project during the initial public comment period in October.

In a letter sent to Three Valleys and the Claremont City Council on November 19, nearby residents took issue with elements of the project, including the location of the proposed building that would enclose the well, fencing and potential long-term impacts on the neighborhood.

“Had TVMWD and the city of Claremont been more transparent, more communicative, and followed their own proclamations about community input processes, the impacted citizens could have addressed our concerns early in the planning process rather than at this late stage,” read the letter, which was signed by eight nearby residents.

Adoption of the project’s environmental documents was postponed for 90 days on November 20 to allow time for public comment. Part of that public comment process includes three meetings, of which last Wednesday was the first.

The next two meetings will take place on January 8 and 28 at the Three Valleys office, 1021 Miramar Ave.

The conceptual design of the well building featured a rock façade similar to buildings found in Claremont’s Russian Village. The well would be encased with sound panels to cut back on noise.

A gate surrounds the property, with small native plants and decomposed granite pathways around the perimeter.

Two gates would be built—one facing Miramar and the other facing Grand. The building will be placed toward the south of the property facing Miramar, 40 feet from the street and 45 feet from the adjacent residential property. The gate surrounding the property will be set back 25 feet from the street.

Residents at Wednesday’s meeting were concerned about placement of the building, with some advocating for the well to be set further back from the streets and adjacent properties.

“It seems to me like you’re going to cause us less stress and problems with all of your lights and everything farther away from our house,” resident Brian Kennedy, who lives next door to the property, said.

The Three Valleys representatives who were there—Project Manager Ben Peralta, General Manager Matthew Litchfield and Chief Water Resources Officer Tim Kellett—noted that was something they could consider at the next meeting.

Some residents wondered why the well couldn’t be underground. Mr. Litchfield explained that the California Department of Public Health, which issues Three Valleys’ water supply permits, doesn’t allow wells to go below grade because of the possibility of runoff contaminating the well.”

Some were concerned about construction noise. The first phase of the project, which could last up to four months, includes borehole drilling, well construction and pumping tests. Of that three-to-four month process, 25-30 days of it will be 24-hour operations.

Three Valleys reps assured residents that during that they would comply with Claremont noise ordinances—no louder than 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels during the night.

“We don’t want it to bother you, so we’re going to make sure it’s very quiet,” Mr. Peralta said.

Some residents called for a property value assessment, which Mr. Litchfield noted was something they “don’t typically do.” Mark Gosnell, who lives close to the site, claimed that his property has lost $35,000 in value over the past three years, and said he was going to ask the bank about the impacts the well might have on his property.

“It’s having an effect, whether you like it or not,” he said.

Sarah Kennedy called for more landscaping around the property that would help in absorbing more of the sounds the well might make.

“Claremont is the city of trees,” she said. “If you put the well in the middle, put a grove around it. That’s what Claremont is all about.” 

Brian Bowcock, longtime board member for Three Valleys, assured residents that no more than one well would be built and no matter how large the electric motor will be, “you will probably not hear a thing.”

“I’m telling you, the board will work with you, and you will have staff work with you to the bitter end,” he said.

The three-to-four month construction phase may be bothersome, but when the project is completed, “you’ll be proud of it,” Mr. Bowcock said.

“As far as the property value, there are some who would like to live next door to a facility like this than to live next door to a family of ten with a pool,” he quipped.

Three Valleys will take feedback from this meeting and hold another similar meeting at its office located at 1021 Miramar Ave., Claremont at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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