Calleguas Water District hopes to receive permission soon to build a new pumping station on Lindero Canyon Road in Oak Park.
Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District—which owns an open space meadow just north of Yerba Buena
School where the station will be built—is expected to give final approval to the project on July 19.
The $15-million pump station will connect Calleguas pipelines to those operated by Las Virgenes Municipal Water district to the south so that both agencies can use the other’s water in case of an emergency.
“We’re going to have functionality so that water can flow in both directions and benefit both districts,” Las Virgenes general manager David Pedersen said.
Las Virgenes will spend $2.2 million on a new 30-inch pipeline from Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Lindero Canyon Road leading to the pump station.
Calleguas needs the pump to push the Las Virgenes water uphill to its customers in Oak Park, North Ranch and Thousand Oaks. Residents there currently receive their potable 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 over 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.
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.
The project has gone through several redesigns since it was first conceived.
When Calleguas first approached Oak Park residents with the plan, the pump was designed to be built above ground at the meadow and included a driveway and fencing. But after hearing objections by residents, Calleguas decided to build the facility underground and mostly out of sight.
When completed, the structure will only be visible as a cluster of metal fixtures that stand about a foot high.
Oak Park residents living near the site—especially those in the Canyon Cove neighborhood—are concerned also about the noise generated by the pump.
As part of a recent presentation to the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council, the community’s governing body, Bergh said he had taken noise level readings at a similar installation in Thousand Oaks. At a distance of 60 feet from the T.O. station the sound of machinery was negligible, he said.
The equipment won’t be operated daily, Bergh said. It won’t come into full use unless an emergency forces Calleguas to begin pumping water from the Las Virgenes side.
Bergh said the new facility also will allow Calleguas to shut down the existing pipeline for maintenance without dropping service in Oak Park.
One of the project’s more serious impacts is the placement of new pipeline under Lindero Canyon Road.
Bergh said workers will have to shut down sections of the road to install the pipeline, which will travel along Lindero Canyon and connect with existing Calleguas pipes to the north.
Calleguas’ plan is to install the pipe below Lakeview Canyon Road and Falling Star Avenue, which would prevent the need for more invasive construction underneath Lindero and Kanan Road, officials said. However, that is just the proposed plan, and it may be altered in the future. Calleguas hasn’t made a final decision regarding that route.
Drew Fountaine, chair of the Oak Park MAC, said he understands the community’s concerns, but that the project is necessary.
“It’s critical, and not just to us but to everybody else in their system. This is a cheap project for (Calleguas) that gains huge benefits, and we would be selfish to stand in the way,” Fountaine said. “What choice do you have?”
The Rancho Simi vote on the project will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thurs., July 19 at the Oak Park Community Center.
The Calleguas plan must still undergo a full 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.