This matter came to the attention of the town as damning photos taken by concerned Sierra Madre residents appeared on the front page of the Mountain Views "Observer." This despite what in retrospect were well-founded misgivings on the part of the photographers about the desire of the publisher of that paper to report this story accurately. And an article did accompany these photos, but it was something that many regarded as being little more than a whitewash of what for some paid officials at City Hall was an acutely embarrassing situation.
The method used to handle this public relations challenge was a simple one. It was to be carefully explained that the City was being well paid for the use of that water. And not just that, there was a special meter in place to guarantee that honest payments were made as well. Three times in the 9/6/07 MVO article cited below ("Water Abuse? Residents Raise Concerns Over Water Use At 1 Carter"), those very explanations were reinforced.
"The tankers, which have been seen filling up three, sometimes four times a day, use the water for dust control at the sight (sic). 'Dust control is mandated at all construction sites,' according to Sierra Madre Fire Marshall Rich Snyder, 'they don't have a choice. And they actually pay for it. We rent meters to developers so that we can monitor their use of city water,' said Snyder."
"James Carlson of the Public Works Department confirmed that the meters are rented out. In this particular instance, John Laing Homes, current developer of the 1 Carter site, paid a deposit of $1,716.00. They are charged the normal rate of $1.79 per unit (100 cubic feet or 748 gallons.)
And one more time:
"A sub-contractor, Acosta Construction, is the firm actually working on the grading at 1 Carter. According to James Bon, site superintendent, the tanker ... holds about 4,000 gallons of water. 'It is never filled without being attached to the meter. Without the water the dust would be unbearable for the people of Sierra Madre."
So that was then. The controversy was swept under the rug (so to speak), and most people moved on. But not everyone. Residents unfortunate enough to live by the One Carter debacle continued to monitor the situation. The seismic vibrations from heavy construction equipment, fears of potential landslides, truck traffic, plus the stress of living by a major work site, would make doing otherwise impossible.
Today I spoke with a Carter Avenue resident about what those living near the site are experiencing. Retired, this person keeps a keen eye on events there. And, remembering the water controversy of September 2007, has kept a particularly close eye on the famous One Carter water meter. So what exactly is going on? Apparently the numbers on this meter haven't budged in more than 6 months despite continued "dust abatement" water use. They just don't move anymore. Our eyewitness brought this to the attention of supervisors working at the site, and they also claimed to have noticed that the meter no longer works. But apparently nobody, and I'm guessing that would have to include the city employees paid to read meters (after all, how else would we know what to bill the contractors?), has made a move to have it replaced.
I can only assume that once its public relations purpose was past, the meter's continued operation was deemed to be no longer of much concern.