Monday, January 19, 2009

Resident Reports That The Famous One Carter Water Meter Has Been Broken For At Least 6 Months

You might recall a contro- versy from September of 2007 involving the misuse of City water at the One Carter Estates building site. This was at the height of an extended drought, severe water restrictions were in place for all residents, and rumors that our reserves might actually run out were gaining traction. Yet somehow the developers at One Carter had been given carte blanche by administrators at City Hall to spray truckloads of fresh drinking water around the site as a way of controlling dust. The water being taken from a nearby fire plug. 

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."

And again:

"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. 


  1. Exactly what is Bruce Inman paid to do? When the developers were not receiving a bill for water usage, shouldn't the water dept have noticed something wasn't right? Again the residents are hosed. Thanks Sir Eric

  2. I know the broken meter had been reported to City Hall several times.

  3. What will Vern Hensel say? He battled city hall for overcharging on his water bill for years.

  4. I guess there really is a developer discount in this town.

  5. I have to question whether they're doing any dust abatement at all. I am aware that at least one neighbor has been troubled by dust migration (how's that for a euphemism?) for several months. AQMD has been called out and documented this problem. It is entirely possible that the developer isn't using city water any more--and therefore feels free to ignore his regulatory obligations to control dust. How's that? If I don't have City water, I can't be bothered complying. The whole thing is a hornet's nest, but most of all, I am appalled with the notion that the city has so regularly furnished water to the developers that they have developed a meter rental system. Do these people need government support for their projects? Disgusting.

  6. I walk by the project site in the mornings, and I have seen the dust clouds coming off the site - have in fact changed my walk into a run to get away from there. What a problem - on the one hand, the dust control is inadequate, and needs to be enforced; on the other hand, how can we possibly justify using our drinking water for this? So we get to choose, water to drink or air to beathe.

  7. I have a friend who lives in the canyon....she hasn't had any water pressure in her kitchen for have several of her neighbors.
    Nothing is done.
    Think I'll have her call Vern Hensel!
    Seems some of the city officials have their water issues mixed up.

  8. It is sad to think that some of the people in City Hall receiving a paycheck that comes out of our tax money do not have our interests in mind.

  9. I had to work today. Did our overworked, underpaid City employees have another paid day off?

  10. Hey Anonymous at 5:10, I'm working today, too. But I like and care about my work. I wonder how many of the people who work for our city feel that way.

  11. I think some employees at city hall do care about their city. It's just not your city.