Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Water hot topic at tonight's council meeting

Water, and lack thereof, will be at the forefront of discussion at the upcoming Claremont City Council on Tuesday, February 24.

Ben Lewis, foothill district manager for Golden State Water Company, will make an appearance at the beginning of the meeting to address local drought conditions. Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in the state. Since that time, local municipalities have taken various measures to encourage residents to cut back on water consumption. Just last week Claremont’s neighboring city of La Verne adopted a series of measure to encourage its residents to conserve, including a “cash for grass” program. The Claremont council has not yet publicly addressed taking further measures concerning the drought.

Further water talk will take place following Mr. Lewis’s presentation, this time involving the water manager’s employer. The council will be asked to approve the use of $150,000 of the city’s unassigned General Fund money for its defense against Golden State Water. The water company filed a lawsuit against the city of Claremont in December, alleging the city has not complied with the California Public Records act, which declares all public records in the state of California to be open and available to anyone. In the court documents, Golden State executives claim the city has not been compliant or transparent as claimed. City officials have maintained they have the right to refuse disclosure because of claimed attorney-client and work product privileges as well as allowed exemptions in the California Public Records Act.

Later on in the evening, council members will discuss approving a Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Claremont and the city of La Verne for the preparation of a water system operational study. Late last month, city officials released a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the potential purchase of the city’s water system. The report indicated the possibility of La Verne assuming responsibility for Claremont’s water system should it be obtained from Golden State Water.

Despite ongoing litigation, the city proceeds forward with the potential water system acquisition. Council members will discuss moving forward with the acquisition at a meeting to be held on March 25. To accommodate the crowds that have been attending these discussions, City Manager Tony Ramos is recommending the city council meeting on that date be moved from its usual location at city hall to Taylor Hall, 1775 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Council members will approve that change at the end of Tuesday night’s meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 225 W. Second St. To view the full agenda, visit www.ci.claremont.ca.us. A full report will be included online and in the next edition of the COURIER. 

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