LOCAL OPINION: New power lines should be underground
Submitted by We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review
“Why the hell do we still have overhead wires in fire-prone areas?” - Gov. Gavin Newsom
Here is an easy quiz about starting fires from power lines strung up on towers, in comparison with undergrounding those lines.
(1) Which is more likely to break in the wind? In an ice-storm?
(2) Which is more likely to be severed by a falling or flying tree limb?
(3) Which is more likely to be struck and damaged by lightning?
(4) Which is more likely to present a target for deliberate sabotage?
If you answered all questions with “Obviously, power lines strung up on towers,” most all reasonable people would certainly agree with you. But not the most important people. An official of the California Public Utilities Commission wrote, in reference to undergrounding power lines for a local project here in Mount Shasta, ”... there is no evidence to support that doing so would result in a safer system.”
The official, Robert Haga, was responding to many dozens of local residents who specifically asked at a public hearing in 2018 (and in follow-up letters) that a replacement power line (from the Lassen Substation on South Old Stage Road to the yet-to-open Crystal Geyser Plant on Ski Village Drive) be undergrounded rather than strung up on new tall towers.
This CPUC opinion gives the green light to the tower project, and rejects undergrounding. But it is surprising, even by the CPUC’s generally pro-utility company standards. According to CPUC’s own website map, the proposed power line runs right through the middle of a “Tier-3” fire threat area. According to the CPUC: “Tier 3 fire-threat areas depict areas where there is an extreme risk (including likelihood and potential impacts on people and property) from utility associated wildfires.”
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We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review, more commonly known as the W.A.T.E.R. group, is a grassroots, non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to protecting Mount Shasta’s water and other natural resources from privatization and depletion by extraction for corporate profit, protecting groundwater from contamination by industrial activity, and protecting the environment from other inappropriate and polluting industrial/commercial activities.
The primary objectives and purposes of our organization are to:
1) advocate preservation of natural resources and a healthy environment;
2) advocate long-range community planning and regenerative practices to protect all citizens and to promote a thriving community;
3) communicate these concerns to local government officials and agencies;
4) encourage community-wide participation through educating the public about these issues;
5) defend these issues with public interest litigation activities if necessary.
We envision a community that stewards our natural resources, engages in local governance to control its destiny, and provides for the needs of all people. We envision a community where the rights of minorities and Indigenous Peoples are woven into the fabric of the community at large. We envision an economy that provides living wages with jobs that allow community members to develop their full human potentials and that facilitate a connection with nature, all while regenerating and sustaining our natural resources and environment.
OPINION: Unlimited water in Big Springs?
Submitted by We Advocate For Thorough Environmental Review
We are truly concerned about what is happening with the Big Springs residents losing access to water for their domestic use. Reviewing local water history is important. The Gateway Neighborhood residents (near the Crystal Geyser plant in Mount Shasta) experienced the same water shortage issues during CocaCola/Dannon water bottling days and were rebuffed by the county. The board of supervisors told the affected households to speak to the company, who then of course said it couldn’t possibly be from their pumping... even though they pumped more in one day than three of our neighbors pumped in a year! So, when the new CG project was proposed, our neighborhood had already experienced problems with over-pumping. During the EIR process, WATER and experts urged the County and CG to include the neighborhood wells in the groundwater testing. What we got was misleading theoretical modeling and no testing of our domestic wells. Hence, our lawsuit is now pending a hearing in Appellate Court.
The Gateway Neighborhood in Mount Shasta was hurt by industrial water extraction and now it is homeowners in the Big Springs area being negatively affected. These folks are having the same issues (currently up to about 20 domestic wells affected) because reportedly their aquifer has lowered due to industrial water extraction via trucking.
Historically, Siskiyou County has taken a stance not to regulate water extraction at all: that good old “hands off approach.” In contrast, many counties in the State have strong use permit requirements for anything other than home/domestic well usage. It is time for the BOS and county to join the rest of the state. The county must not shirk its responsibility to protect its citizens and the public’s water. The policy has been to not regulate water, except to say that water cannot be trucked for use outside the county. (Sec. 3- 13.101- Regulation of the extraction of groundwater for use outside the basin from which it was extracted.) We can now see how trucking water for use “within” the county is just as dangerous.
W.A.T.E.R. and Winnemem Wintu Tribe Guest Opinion Article in Mount Shasta Herald
We all know that advertisements by giant corporations are not always reliable sources of truth. A case in point is the full-page ad by Crystal Geyser Roxane (CGR, a French/Japanese multinational corporation with a plant in Weed) in the June 3, 2020, Mt. Shasta Herald. In big bright red colored print, CGR informs us that it is "Committed to the Environment" and "Committed to You". We might contrast those self-serving pronouncements with their actual recent behaviors:
•1• An internal CGR document was accidentally sent to the newspaper of Lewis County, WA, where CGR wants to set up a water bottling plant in spite of major citizen and County government official opposition. In the email, a CGR official admits they are "fortunate not to have been sued yet", suggests to "hire a PR firm solely for the purpose of gathering grassroots supporters", and proposes to sue area landowners to "get them to the table". (1)
•2• CGR is the main driver of Roseburg Lumber's demand to take over Weed's historic 100-year water supply (Beaughan Springs), cut the City off, and then sell the water to CGR. In its full page ad, CGR says "we take our responsibility to our... community very seriously". But according to videoed public statements by the Weed mayor and a City Councilmember, the founder of CGR (and father of its CEO) threatened to "blow up" the Weed plant if he did not get all the water he demanded. (2) (Later that month, other CGR officials "apologized" for those comments). (3) As a result, the City of Weed has already expended substantial amounts of money on legal fees in efforts to re-claim their share of the Beaughan Springs water. The costs to the community will likely continue for decades.
W.A.T.E.R. submits comments on Federal Plastic Pollution Act
W.A.T.E.R. has submitted comments in response to the “Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act,” co-written by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, and California Representative Alan Lowenthal. As the global plastic pollution crisis grows exponentially worse, development of a national effort to curb plastic pollution is essential. Read our letter for insights into what is good and what is missing in this legislation.
Help End Plastic Pollution
On land in the sea and air, plastic pollution has become a global scourge. Plastic waste is choking the oceans causing harm to marine wildlife and entering the food chain; water and dust have been shown to contain plastic particles; it is common to see plastic waste littering our local alpine environment. The problem cannot be solved by recycling. We must reduce plastic use, especially single use plastics.
We invite you to explore ways to reduce plastic consumption in your own life. Check out our web site for an ever-evolving list of great ideas and additional resources and share ideas you find useful (email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Yes, that is W.A.T.E.R. Board Member Raven Stevens in the Green Shirt on the left.
For several years W.A.T.E.R has been participating in the NGO Groundwater Collaborative. The NGO Groundwater Collaborative helps non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Tribes, and California residents share information and resources to help each other participate in the state’s groundwater management programs. See to read an interview on involving community groups in groundwater decision making.
McCloud Water Bottling Contract Terminated.
More Bottlers on the Horizon?
June 22, 2020, marked the end of the extended six year contract between McCloud Artesian Spring Water Co (Artesians) and the McCloud Community Services District (MCSD) for the purchase and sale of McCloud’s precious spring water. The promises of bottlers have once again failed in McCloud.
It was in September 2009 when Nestle Waters North America walked out of McCloud after 6 long years. Challenges of an inadequate EIR went as far as the California Attorney General’s Office and continued citizen objections led Nestle to switch gears, abandon their project and head out of town.
On June 22nd, 2020, the MCSD Board terminated another 6 year agreement. That’s two failed attempts at grabbing the very same spring water. The Artesians were never able to buy land or successfully create a legitimate EIR. Their project was outlined in a January 2018 Notice of Preparation. W.A.T.E.R. responded to the Artesian CEQA Notice of Preparation, (see full response ), but project concerns were never answered.
W.A.T.E.R. takes "plastic free" petition to local retailers
As we hear in headlines almost daily, plastic pollution is a world-wide, catastrophic and growing problem for our oceans, other ecosystems, as well as all of humanity and wildlife.
Many in our community as well as all over the world are concerned about this growing problem and would like to do what we can to stop it. Although many of us recycle what we can, we recognize that our current plastic recycling infrastructure falls far short of effectively addressing the pollution issue. Because of the ongoing subsidies to the petroleum industry, virgin plastic is so cheap there likely will never be effective recycling options. Many of us have chosen to reduce the use of plastics in our households (for more information, see cawater.net), however, this can be challenging if we are not given the option to purchase non-plastic products. Thus we consumers cannot solve this problem alone.
Engaging Local Retailers
It is a constant challenge to find in our local stores products that are plastic-free. We are asking that our local retailers do their part to reduce plastic pollution by stocking on their selves products that are neither made from nor packaged in plastic. The petition, signed by 261 community members, demonstrates the community interest in having such products available.
See the petition report .
Still Waiting on a Court Date...
Our appeal of the County's approval of the Crystal Geyser EIR to the Appellate Court in Sacramento is still waiting for a hearing date. With Covid-19 and the backlog of cases we are not sure when that will happen. While we wait for our hearing date, we have been busy protecting the community and being as proactive as these Covid-19 times will allow.
Water for Citizens of Weed, CA (WCWC) objects to Crystal Geyser leach field waste disposal plan.
WCWC has submitted a comment letter to the Northern California Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQC) objecting to Crystal Geyser Roxane's (CGR) plans to discharge waste water into an on-site leach field. The letter says in part:
"In 2018, an adjoining neighbor in Weed discovered that CGR had, without permission or authorization, been dumping its wastewater into a holding tank that consistently overflowed, sending wastewater off its property and into Black Butte Creek, a Boles Creek (Shasta/Klamath watershed) tributary. CGR had to immediately cease this practice and start sending its wastewater into the City of Weed’s sewer system for treatment. Reportedly due to the cost associated with using the City wastewater treatment system (which needs a significant upgrade to handle CGR’s wastewater in the long-term), CGR has indicated to the City of Weed that it is planning on building a new leach field for its wastewater. "
The letter goes on to express deep concern, since the proposed leach field is only 250 feet
from a major City domestic water source, the Mazzie Well:
“Given the proximity of this proposed leach field to an important City water source, the presence of dangerous chemicals in the waste water, the large amount of wastewater involved and CGR’s poor ethical track record at other water bottling facilities, we view the development of this leach field as a cause for great concern--a threat to both our City water supply and to water quality in the Boles/Shasta/Klamath basin.”
See the letter in full .
Facing Community Opposition, Crystal Geyser Roxane Drops Leach Field Proposal!
While there has been no public announcement, Water for Citizens of Weed, California (WCWC) has learned that Crystal Geyser Roxane has withdrawn its proposal for the development of a controversial waste water leach field in Weed.
Last November CG Roxane applied to the Weed Planning Commission for tree cutting permits and easements to start development of the leach field. This occurred after it was discovered that the company’s settlement ponds were overflowing and sending waste water directly into Black Butte Creek, a Boles Creek tributary. CG Roxane was then forced to start sending its waste water into the City of Weed’s waste water treatment system. In order to avoid the ongoing expense of using the City’s treatment system, CG Roxane had hoped to develop a new leach field in the area of Alves Road and Mary’s Drive.
In the presentation to the Weed Planning Commission, the waste water was described as “clean.” However, a public records request from WCWC to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board (NCRWQCB) revealed that the company’s waste water contains a number of chemicals harmful to people and wildlife. WCWC also discovered that the leach field would be located only 250 feet from the City of Weed’s Mazzei Well, an important source of drinking water for the community.
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