Why build plant on unstable ground?

To the Editor:

Several years ago the Garberville Sanitary District bought the privately owned Garberville Water Company. And then, water bills started climbing. By 2013, according to the GSD’s current five-year rate increase plan, the basic rate for water and sewer combined, is scheduled to be $88.00 a month for domestic households. Two new planned facilities are the reason for the rate increase.

The first facility, the wastewater treatment plant, which cost $3.5 million, is nearly complete.

The second project isn’t built yet. It is a new drinking water treatment plant and storage tank. It too was originally projected to cost 3.5 million. Then that changed. The District Manager told the board last April that the price tag of the project had suddenly risen to 5.5 million, a jump of 2 million dollars.

Not known about yet in the community is the fact that the new water treatment plant has been planned for construction outside of the District boundaries, next to the Community Park, on a site which has a splay of the Garberville Fault running right through it. The site has seismic issues. It was mapped and described in a geotechnical study done for GSD in 2008 by Laco Engineering, who is the second of three engineering firms contracted so far by GSD to work on this project. The Laco geotechnical report states that it is much more expensive to build on a sloped area of high instability. Laco engineers also state in their report that it is not their preferred site.

If you are interested, come and participate in the next District board meeting. It will be Tuesday, September 6th at 5 p.m. at the District office. I plan to ask a couple of questions: Why did the cost of the new water treatment plant go up by 2 million dollars in four months? Will GSD seriously consider the stable, flat land, zoned PF (Public Facilities) behind the College of the Redwoods building on Sprowel Creek Road as a better site for the new water treatment plant?

CR’s President recently asked for partners in Garberville that could help CR with a $2,500 a month cost that they can’t cover. It came about from state funding cuts and could jeopardize CR’s program here. If that cost could be covered with a lease to GSD, it might keep the College of the Redwoods program here alive. We have the possibility in front of us to have a win-win solution to two problems, the building of a safer, more affordable drinking water treatment plant within GSD’s service boundaries, and fulfillment of CR’s need for a local partner. I think an opportunity like this is well worth GSD’s consideration and could result in real public and environmental benefits to Garberville.

Kristin Vogel