New community pump station gets okay

Dispute with local residents comes to an end

The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District board of directors has given final approval to plans for a new water pumping station on Lindero Canyon Road in Oak Park.

The $15-million project developed by the Calleguas Water District calls for construction of a pumping station in the Wistful Vista open field just north of Yerba Buena Elementary School, and the installation of a feeder pipeline under Lindero Canyon Road to connect the station to pipes on Kanan Road.

Calleguas needs the pump to push water from the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which has pipes under Thousand Oaks Boulevard, uphill to its customers in Oak Park, North Ranch and Thousand Oaks. Residents there currently receive their drinking water through a single pipeline that was built in the 1960s. If an emergency severs that pipeline, the community could be without running water for days or weeks.

“With concerns of the seismology of the area and the greater opportunity to move water around from one place to another, it just provides greater reliability and stability for everybody,” Calleguas spokesperson Eric Bergh said.

Additionally, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District will spend $2.2-million on a new 30- inch pipeline from Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Lindero Canyon Road leading to the pump station.

Bergh said Calleguas has not determined a final route for the pipeline that will connect the pumping station to pipes at Kanan Road, but is proposing to install the pipe under Lindero Canyon Road and connect to Kanan Road via Lakeview Canyon Road and Falling Star Avenue.

The cost of the project, which includes an additional $100,000 for the purchase of the Rancho Simi-owned meadow, will be shared by all Calleguas’ customers, not just Oak Park residents.

Some Oak Park residents took issue with the project, concerned that the community’s open space was being sacrificed for a project that could be put somewhere else.

At a presentation to the Rancho Simi board July 26, Bergh said the district considered multiple sites along Lindero Canyon Road, and Wistful Vista was the best one. The other locations were too small, the ground was too rocky or too steep or they were too close to homes.

The initial design for the project showed the station above ground, but residents concerned about an unsightly building with noise rejected the idea. Calleguas redesigned the site to be underground, and now all that will be visible is a cluster of foot-high metal fixtures on the ground.

James Ebert, a member of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District’s Oak Park Committee, said he was glad the Rancho Simi board approved the project.

“Calleguas have done a lot of in-depth research. I was totally amazed that they’re taking care of so many features and it’s an ongoing process that they’re very familiar with,” Ebert said. “I have a lot of confidence that while there’s going to be a little bit of distraction along Lindero (Canyon Road) here and there, the net result, the contingency plan that it does provide us will hopefully never be needed, but useful if it is.”

Now that the Rancho Simi board has approved, Calleguas still has to conduct an environmental review and conform to the California Environmental Quality Act in order to proceed. As part of that process, alternatives to the proposed pipeline route will be available for public review and comment before the Calleguas board of directors makes a final decision.

Bergh said construction would start in early 2020 and last approximately one year.