SEWAGE GOING TO EDWARDS? CIVIC LEADERS OPPOSE IDEA.
LANCASTER - Looking for ways to increase sewage-treatment capacity, Los Angeles County officials refuse to rule out the possibility of using Edwards Air Force Base land and say whatever option is selected will likely raise rates for homeowners.
In a meeting Thursday night, civic leaders urged Los Angeles County Sanitation District 14 to drop any thoughts of using Edwards land for new sewage treatment ponds. Sanitation district officials said they recognize Edwards' importance but will continue to look at the possibility of leasing base property.
``We have to have a fair hearing on all options,'' said Gary Yoshida, assistant department head for financial management and grants administration.
Sanitation districts are studying how to expand the Lancaster treatment plant because of continuing population growth, upcoming stiffer water quality requirements, and a 2005 deadline to keep overflows from spilling onto Edwards' Rosamond Dry Lake.
Sanitation officials say the plant will reach maximum capacity by 2007.
Options being considered for inclusion in an environmental study include leasing Edwards land, purchasing private property near the base, or trying to increase use of treated sewage effluent for irrigating landscaping or farmland.
Whatever option is selected will likely bump up the $67-a-year charge homeowners in Lancaster and portions of Palmdale have now.
``We are faced with significant increases in user charges,'' Yoshida said.
Sanitation officials plan to complete the environmental study and select an option by early 2004.
Thursday night's meeting drew Antelope Valley leaders opposed to any use of Edwards land as well as people who believe Edwards should be part of the solution, including bird and wildlife advocates wanting to see the expansion of Edwards wetlands known as Piute Ponds.
The ponds, a marshy area of shallow pools fed by the sewage treatment plant, are home to large numbers of waterfowl and other creatures. In rainy years, water overflows from the ponds onto nearby Rosamond Dry Lake, irritating Air Force officials who want to preserve the lake bed as an emergency landing site.
A leading opponent of any use of Edwards land is state Sen. W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, R-Palmdale, a retired test pilot and former Edwards vice commander. Using Edwards land, Knight believes, would prompt similar requests from other agencies, resulting in base territory being nibbled away and making Edwards more susceptible to the possibility of closure or loss of programs.
``Once you start, you can't stop the encroachment,'' Knight said.
Joining Knight in voicing opposition to the use of Edwards land were Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, Lancaster city officials and representatives of the Antelope Valley Chambers of Commerce.
Other Antelope Valley residents said Edwards must be part of the solution, either for ecological or financial reasons. One suggestion was expanding Piute Ponds.
``We ask for wetlands to be included as part of the solution,'' said Mike San Miguel, a member of Citizens for Piute Wetlands.
San Miguel suggested that not only should the wetlands be expanded, but also that access for nature lovers could be enhanced through a trail network incorporated into the wetlands.
Proponents of the Edwards lease proposal say it would be less expensive and ultimately less costly to sewage district customers than purchasing private land.
Acquiring large amounts of land would likely require going to court in eminent domain proceedings to compel owners to sell, and that would be expensive, with some preliminary estimates as high as $30 million to $40 million, according to county sanitation officials.
The sanitation district is looking at six options - two involving the purchase of private property, two involving the leasing of Edwards land, and two that would rely solely on agricultural and municipal recycling of treated effluent. All options involve some level of using recycled water on farmland or city property such as street landscaping.
The six options can be divided into two categories - those that would allow treated effluent to overflow in winter onto Rosamond Dry Lake and those that call for no overflows.
For acquiring private property, the sanitation district is looking at two possible locations - one immediately south of Edwards, bordered by avenues D and G, and 50th and 100th streets east, and one roughly bounded by Avenue E and Avenue A, and 70th and 45th streets west.
Depending on the extent of authorized winter overflows, storage ponds would cover 510 to 1,070 acres.
Each reservoir would have an area of approximately 40 acres and a water depth of about 10 feet. Reservoirs would either be lined with compacted clay or a synthetic liner.
If no overflows are authorized, the district would need to acquire or lease 1,070 acres.
Depending on the option selected, the district would need to acquire between 2,430 acres and 7,220 acres of land for agricultural operations.
Sanitation officials have talked with the Air Force about leasing 4 square miles of vacant land on the base's southwest corner.
Any such lease agreement would require approval from the Pentagon and the sanitation district's three-member board of directors.
The Lancaster plant has the capacity to handle about 12 million gallons of sewage a day, but will need to handle 22.2 million to 25.7 million gallons per day by 2020 to deal with anticipated population growth.
District officials said the Edwards land, if they were to lease it, would not be enough, and that the ultimate solution will be a plan that includes agricultural use and municipal recycling.
Lancaster officials are working on a proposal initially to use 1.5 million gallons of recycled water to irrigate street median landscaping. Treated water from the plant has gone for years to Apollo Park, where it fills the park's three lakes.
(1) Treated sewage from the Lancaster treatment plant spills onto Rosamond Dry Lake in an Edwards Air Force Base file photo.
U.S. Air Force
(2) An angler fishes in Apollo Park Lake, which for years has taken treated water from the Lancaster plant.
Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 11, 2003|
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