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Claremont may look to La Verne to operate water system

Should the city of Claremont acquire its water system, officials might be looking for a little help from their neighbors.

According to a Draft Environmental Impact Report released by the city late last week, Claremont officials are in talks to have the city of La Verne assume responsibility for the city’s water system should it be obtained from the current owner, Golden State Water Company.

“The city does not intend to operate the system and will not create or expand any city departments to do so,” the document states. “Rather, the city plans to use an outside qualified third party to manage the system. The city has initiated discussions with the city of La Verne to have the city of La Verne Water Department serve as a potential operator of the Claremont System, if acquired by the City.”

The city of La Verne—with an estimated 31,000 residents as compared to Claremont’s 35,000—currently operates eight municipal wells, with water service spanning approximately 6,100 acres in and around the city borders, according to information provided by the city of La Verne.  

City Manager of La Verne Bob Russi confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Claremont and La Verne officials have met to explore the possibility of managing Claremont’s water system.

“We have had preliminary discussions—nothing formal that has gone to council, but informal discussions at staff levels,” Mr. Russi said.  

The report, available on the city website, does note that Claremont officials “are still reviewing the possibility of other local public water suppliers who may be interested and able to serve as the operator of the Claremont system.”

As stated in the EIR, these possibilities include the city of Upland, Pomona, the Monte Vista Water District or another private third party operator. The public will be invited to voice its opinion on a potential operator for Claremont’s water system at a council meeting in late February or early March, according to Bevin Handel, Claremont’s public information officer.  

The Claremont City Council took its first step toward local water ownership in January 2012, with the allotment of $300,000 in general reserve funds to explore replacing Golden State Water, the city’s current water provider. The journey began six months prior in response to the water company’s request for a 24 percent rate increase in 2013 as well as additional, smaller increases in 2014 and 2015. The California Public Utilities Commission later approved a 16 percent increase.

The Claremont City Council continued forward with potential water acquisition in November with the authorization of a further $350,000 in city funds to prep financial and legal documents needed for the potential purchase of Claremont’s water system, including the Environmental Impact Report now being released.

The public is invited to add their input on the EIR and potential water acquisition. Comments may be sent to Brian Desatnik, director of community development, by mail at PO Box 880, Claremont, CA 91711; by fax at (909) 399-5327 or email, bdesatnik@ci.claremont.ca.us. All remarks must be submitted by March 10 at 5 p.m.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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