New fire marshal David Goodell (right) was introduced to the Lebec County Water District by Kern County Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Miller (left) at the February 1 LCWD meeting.
By Katy Penland and Patric Hedlund
A possible recall effort against the Lebec County Water District Board is underway this week, as a dispute between developers and the board over a water pipeline continues to simmer.
Deputy Chief Mike Miller of the Kern County Fire Department had opened the Monday, Feb. 1 meeting by introducing David Goodell, a new fire marshal for the Mountain Communities. He replaces Oliver Brothers, who sngered those at the January 4 meeting by saying, “I’m the fire marshal; I can do whatever I want” [see the Jan. 8 issue of The Mountain Enterprise].
Miller said he was there to explain that Brothers was not given all the information he needed about a 12-inch water line hookup to the Holiday Inn. That line is now implicated in 10 days of pressure problems and water outages for residential customers in late December.
Legal Dispute Over Pipe
The $120,000 pipeline was built by realtor Emilie Wainright and her partner, engineer Jeff French, who sold the land to the hotel and plan to develop additional parcels adjacent to the hotel, according to Darren Hager, board president. In an interview February 5, Hager said the board’s lawyer reports the 12-inch line was not built legally and does not have state permits for crossing blue-line Cuddy Creek. Penalties from the state for disturbing a blue line creek without approval and a plan filed with the California Department of Fish and Game can be very expensive.
At the February 1 meeting, Chief Miller assured the board and customers that such a misunderstanding would not happen again with the Kern County Fire Department. Meanwhile, French (the engineer/developer contracted to represent the Holiday Inn) and the LCWD engineer are still seeking to resolve system design challenges.
Fluoride Level Problems
District Water Operator Kris Hollands reported changes by the California Department of Public Health in Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for fluoride from 2.4 parts per million (ppm) to 2.0 ppm. The water district is now out of compliance with its Chimney Canyon well, which fluctuates from 1.7 to 2.4 ppm.
Hollands outlined three options: 1) Use activated alumina to flush the system (but the backwash would flow into Cuddy Creek, which is not allowed); 2) Buy a $160,000 osmosis filter system (installation and annual maintenance are extra); 3) Seek a variance from the state to allow the district not to exceed 3.0 ppm fluoride MCL, which is the federal level. No vote was taken.
Two board vacancies were filled at the meeting, though the item was not on the agenda.
Julie McWhorter and Mike Hightower were appointed [see February 5 issue of The Mountain Enterprise]. They replace Bruce Koch and Robert Karr (elected in November, 2009), who both helped get the 12-inch line built. Both resigned from the board after the January 4 meeting. The appointments are in effect until the next election in 2011.
This is part of the February 12, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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