Friday, April 10, 2015

Should The City Of Sierra Madre Offer Cash Bounties To Residents Who Turn In Water Hogs?

There is a stigma associated with turning in your neighbor for doing something wrong. Nobody ever wants to be known for being a snitch, even when doing so is the right thing to do. But with cities potentially facing $10,000 dollar a day fines from Sacramento for not knuckling under to some rather draconian water use reduction demands, the stakes are now quite high. Things have become very serious.

Plus there is also that little matter of the State of California running out of water in a year or so. Think how colorful life will get in this part of the world should that ever actually happen. I don't want to sound too scary, but my take is both civility and decorum will be among the very first things to go. Followed by what we've always known as fairness, then democratic due legal process as water rights become something only the privileged and powerful will be able to command. And what comes after that?

Your guess is as good as mine. I doubt it will be good.

As you probably know by now, Sierra Madre, along with a few other select cities, is being assigned the very maximum water rate reduction percentage by Sacramento, which is 35%. Or 10% above the statewide average. That designation is only being assigned to those cities that are among the worst water use abusers.

To be clear, this has yet to be approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (link). But since those who serve on that satrapy are appointees of Governor Brown and serve at his pleasure, and this was all his idea, it will happen.

So how did Jerry Brown come to so unfortunate a conclusion about our little city? Sacramento established a statistical snapshot for each city in California based on its water usage, with the date used for this purpose being September of 2014. The state then set a benchmark in the amount of 150 gallons per person per month. Using this standard of measurement Sierra Madre, along with Arcadia, Pasadena and some notable others, came out looking pretty bad.

This isn't to say that a lot of people in this town did not do their utmost to lower the amount of water they use. Many residents did proper things like rip out their lawns and xeriscape their yards. But apparently that was nowhere near enough to offset the effects of those who don't give a damn. Many of whom continue even today to use vast amounts of the stuff to do things like keep their little patches of lawn green. To the point where rivers of water flow out into the street and down storm sewers.

So here is my modest proposal. Instead of expecting Sierra Madre to become a city of informants and snitches, City Hall should bring back one of the great time honored traditions of the Old West. That is offer a cash bounty to anyone who turns in a water use offender.

I figure that $500 in bounty money per person turned in, paid upon verification by law enforcement that the offender truly is an authentic and true water hog, should do the trick.

Snitching is turning in people for free. It seems like there never has been much honor or profit in that. But a bounty would change everything. Bounties are what was given back in wilder times to those brave souls who helped to fight frontier lawlessness. It helped to civilize the west during desperate times.

These are desperate times. Maybe it is time for City Hall to bring back the bounty.

Time to face the facts, the city can't do very much about yellow water 

The following e-mail was sent to several people at City Hall. It was forwarded to me by a friend of the author.

Dear Mr. Reynoso, Mr. Inman, Ms. Aguilar, Mr. Harabedian,

I am writing in response to the email below in which Mr. Reynoso outlines what was being done almost 7 months ago to correct the yellow water problem myself & my neighbors on Pleasant Hill Lane were and are experiencing.

Imagine my surprise when the Tattler quoted Bruce Inman as saying there have been "No new reports" of yellow water as if this were a sign of success from the $50,000 consultant hired to deal with this problem?!  What is being done about my "old" problem which still exists?

There has been little if any noticeable change in my water service except there is now a new, noticeable chemical smell that accompanies the "old" smell of coagulated blood that accompanies my still very yellow water! My white porcelain tub, tile & toilet bowl require daily scrubbing to keep them at best a lightly stained hue of the rust shade that DOMINATES my plastic shower head, curtain & rings. ice maker & every other appliance that this disgusting stuff flows through. Never mind the inner workings of my appliances, what is this stuff doing to my body & my animals?!

If you need proof that this problem exists for us tax-paying citizens I will be happy to forward "new" photos & or join others who have brought samples down to City Hall.

I implore, no I challenge you to respond with a safe, healthy solution to this problem once & for all!

The author of this statement has yet to receive a reply. My guess is that given the current and very real situation, nobody at City Hall would want to put their name to it.

At the April 28 City Council meeting Bruce Inman will give a report on the water situation here in town. He will describe the efforts over the last year or so to combat the coloration of our water, along with nitrification, which is brought about by imported chloramines interacting with our ancient decayed pipes. Bruce will then describe the work being done by Hélène Baribeau (link), the consultant we paid $50,000 to fix this problem. Along with considerable additional funding that was used for things like chemicals and testing.

Bruce will then declare that this work is yet to be completed, and that the City Council needs to approve even more funding so that these tests can continue, and an eventual solution be found.

As it has now been a year, and nothing much of value has happened, the City Council should probably say no to that additional money request.

Why? Because this problem goes beyond the abilities of Dr. Baribeau, or anyone else for that matter, to solve. The real cause lies with the pipes themselves. Through decades of grossly irresponsible neglect they are mostly ancient, deeply corroded and, once combined with the chloramines our current water source sends our way whether we like it or not, produce multi-colored discoloration.

That is not going to change, even if more money is thrown at the problem.

The services of Dr. Baribeau were way oversold by Mr. Inman when he presented her hiring to the City Council last year as the happy solution to our woeful problems. That this was followed by various sunny assessments of the progress being made by Dr. Baribeau is something that has only made the public's misperceptions even more inaccurate.

We are at now the end of that road. It is time for City Hall to tell people just how bad the situation really is, and that there is precious little that they can do about it. The yellow water is here to stay, nitrification will be a constant and serious struggle, and once the weather heats up it is all going to get much worse.

No more PR, no more so-called solutions that are really little more than delaying the inevitable.

It is time for the city to cut the crap.

CBS News San Francisco: No More Playing Nice – CA Water Regulators Will Name, Shame, Fine, Even Ration Water-Wasters (link): California is done with gentle nudges and polite reminders to deal with its devastating drought.

State regulators are naming and shaming local water departments that have let water wasters slide — and forcing them to slash water use by as much as a third. They say it’s necessary as California reservoirs, and the snow on mountains that is supposed to refill them, reach record lows.

The drought has no clear end in sight, but it’s up to hundreds of local agencies, from small irrigation districts to the city of Los Angeles, to make sure California has enough water to get through it.

Since Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency last year, they’ve largely taken a soft, educational approach to curtail water use. But that’s no longer enough, he says.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

77 comments:

  1. I could use $500.

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    1. Me too, I need ten times that much to pay for new pipes to replace the cloramine damaged ones in my home.

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    2. Sign me up! Will bounties be reported on Form 1099 to the IRS?

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    3. I think they pay you in fish caught at the Huck Finn Fishing Derby.

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    4. huh, didn't like that first post this morning?

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    5. That would be 500 fins.

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  2. A bounty would definitely get the attention of a lot of people. More than those fines the City Council wants.

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  3. Let's propose another solution to the water crisis. No more development! You cannot keep building these huge housing projects that keep increasing the water consumption at a time when we are literally running out of water. I don't care how much people try to save water if you keep replacing single story homes with multi-unit housing. That's where the water is being lost. There is a 12,000 unit housing project being proposed for Tejon Ranch near Bakersfield. And that's just one project. Every city in the state of California is seeing an explosion of new developments. In Sierra Madre, you had our good friends from Mul-Sol Development putting in a big housing project in over on Mariposa. I don't care how much water people save if we keep buidling more and more housing projects like this. soon the tap will run dry. Maybe Governor Brown should declare his own state-wide moratorium on development and say that until this drought ends and we solve our water crisis, we are going to conserve our water resources so that we have enough to supply to the existing residents who are already here so as not to jeopardize our entire way of life for those people who probably should be migrating to other states that have the resources to support them.

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    1. Couldn't agree more.

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    2. I also dislike over development.
      But lets be clear about the reason for the water shortage. It is political. No new reservoirs have been built since the 1960's - to appease the Environmentalists. Note I did not say to benefit the environment. The obstructionists who stopped the reservoir building were regressive anarchists who just fooled the Environmentalists into joining their cause. Sad gullible fools.
      http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_1_california-drought.html

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    3. Imagine what all those reservoirs that haven't been built would look like today...as empty as Folsom, Oroville, Lake Shasta...

      Why? because all that water would have just promoted more development.

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    4. Let's not forget that the developer hired by the Monastery, New Urban West has said in their "small group meetings" with residents (this is part of their divide and conquer strategy) that they will have "zero net water use" because even though they will build 50 larger houses up there, they will also pay for certain conservation measures in town like retrofitting city bathrooms or having some fund to pay for the replacement of lawns - thus the end result would be zero net water use at the end of the day. Here's the rub: This means that they will have used up certain conservation measures so that there's really no further measures you can do if the drought gets more severe. Yet we will have 50 more homes and who knows how many more residents using water. Keep in mind that the purpose of conservation measures is to reduce water consumption not break even as a result of another big housing project. This drought is so severe that we need conservation measures in and of themselves without bringing additional projects on line so that we actually save water and not break even. Its a sham. But these developers are not stupid when they propose these kind of ideas. But they do hope that we are stupid enough to buy into it.

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    5. Reservoirs have been constructed in the past 30 years, has Sierra Nevada snow melt gone directly into the Pacific in the last 30 years?, don't think so, if it had, then the case could be made for lack of reservoirs, that argument doesn't hold water. Locally, yes we do not collect storm run off the way we should, with diversion gates to spreading ponds, that can be addressed on the local level. I'm pretty sure the cause of the drought is.....get ready for it......you ready?......here we go......it's a dousy.....LACK OF RAIN.

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  4. So Sacramento is going to use public shaming to stop water hogs from hogging? How about shaming for legislators who take hundreds of thousands of dollars in legalized bribes in the form of corporate and union campaign donations? That would be cool.

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    1. That is not part of the process.

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    2. I don't think it is vibrant, either.

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  5. Camillo Road was city enabled water hogging.

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    1. If the house footprint is bigger the water-hogging lawn is smaller.

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    2. The Kensington is probably the biggest single user in Sierra Madre .A City approved albatross.

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    3. City Hall is all about sustainability. But flash some big development impact fees at them and that all goes right out the window.

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    4. The City didn't approve it...the residents voted it in.

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    5. The city was deeply involved.

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  6. Maybe we could ask city hall to find a research consultant who can expedite an evolutionary trait for humans similar to cactus; get by on much less water. If we want to live in the desert for the next 1,000 yr we should consider this.

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    1. If we have to wander in the desert it would be biblical.

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    2. 40 years is what I have read.

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    3. This time it may be longer.

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  7. Instead of turning everybody into a good member of Hitler Youth, how about if city staff drive around and look for lush lawns?

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    1. Hitler Youth were volunteers. Bounty Hunters get paid.

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    2. Staff is busy coming up with new ways to delay the General Plan.

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    3. I used to live in a Communist country. The proposed snitching is common practice there . The Politicians create a problem and then via their stooges (the police and other govt workers) they co-opt the public to inform on their neighbors. The toxic atmosphere this creates is perfect for selectively applying the law to whomever they wish to punish for inconvenient views. #1 on their list would be any Tattler contributor.

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    4. Snitching is communist. Bounty hunting is as American as Apple pie. Just take a look at the badge, son.

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    5. I didn't know the drought is a communist plot. I am going to have to rethink this.

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  8. I'd like to have one of those cool badges.

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    1. From Wikipedia:
      "A bounty hunter captures fugitives for a monetary reward (bounty). Other professional names, mainly used in the United States, include bail enforcement agent, bail agent, recovery agent, bail recovery agent, or fugitive recovery agent."

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    2. Sierra Madre's Water Dept. could call the bounty payments a "job creation program." Probably eligible for stimulus monies.

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    3. Or maybe some green cards.

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    4. Not bounty hunter...more like a "water savings enforcement agent".

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    5. Bounty Hunters wear Stetsons. Water Savings Enforcement Agents wear yellow safety helmets with revolving orange lights on top.

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  9. I feel sorry for the Jacob Maarse rose garden. I have seen the water guys get on the gardners case for watering in the afternoon.

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    1. Unless it has changed, you can hand water without restriction. If they are watering the roses in the middle of the day that is pure and simple bad horticultural practice.

      The best fix will be x amount of water per person per day. Go figure on how to regulate that.

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    2. How does Sierra Madre end up in the 35% target reduction category? Does it have to do with our switching to purchased water and the amount can been reported to the California water authority? Side by side with Arcadia there is no way we use that kind of water. Or do we? Have the 25% of Sierra Madre users in the wasteful upper levels caused this much usage. Clamp down on them. You don't need your neighbor to look for watering on the wrong days, sprinklers over the curb, etc., the city knows who the big users are and have for the last two years when they were setting up this winter/summer conservation schedule.

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    3. Seriously, I would not tell the city about a resident neighbor whose watering was in violation of the conservation mandates, I would my neighbor first. Primarily to help them save MONEY! Sometimes you drive by and see a sprinkler on in the middle of the day, and if you take the time you see the gardener's truck there and finally the gardener working to fix things. Then there is the occassional power outtage and the clock timer for the system is off. I am pretty sure most of us grew up without automatic sprinklers.

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    4. We use 209 gallons per person and being a water hog starts at 150 and above. Arcadia uses I think 250 per person.

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    5. People are still going to get a warning before they get the first fine or penalty?

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    6. Jerry Brown just changed everything. From what I have heard city staff is scrambling to get this figured out before next Tuesday's City Council meeting. I can't wait until the agenda is posted to see if the 35% state reduction demand suddenly shows up. This is a very big deal.

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    7. It has been put on the agenda for the April 28 city council meeting.

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  10. I'd like to see the Bounty Hunters riding horses as they patrol Sierra Madre for water hogs.

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  11. Q) What do you call it when a Bounty Hunter turns in a water hog?

    A) Barbecue.

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  12. I would like to turn in "Bruce the pipe flusher", how much is the bounty for that?

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    Replies
    1. There is a $1,000 bonus for the capture and conviction of a city employee.

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  13. We should declare a state of emergency, close the library, stop all community services, close the Planning Department to all new construction and use that money to help fix the pipes. When our water is deemed ok by the people, reinstate the services.

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    1. Sounds like the right priority to me.

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  14. At least the rusty pipe issue will be fixed, when we run out of water.

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    1. Empty pipes won't leak.

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    2. That's what they say about snitches – empty pipes don't leak

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  15. I would like to know how many gallons of water are wasted when letting out water at the different water hydrants through out the city. Is a meter used? Is this part of the 35%?

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    1. Put that water in the Fire Dept's tank truck and take it to the spreading grounds.

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    2. Yes. You hook the hose from the hydrant to the tank truck and flush the water out of the system and into there. Why is this so hard for the water department to figure out? Holy smokes.

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    3. Bureaucrats do not understand logical thinking

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    4. Kind of like chopping down a bunch of trees to make room to dump some dirt.

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    5. I think the storm drains might lead to the spreading grounds actually. So maybe the fire hydrant flush out is going to to the spreading grounds?

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    6. Most of Sierra Madre is downhill from the spreading grounds. Try thinking harder.

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    7. But so far the places I've seen the flushing happen are uphill from the spreading grounds.

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  16. There is a pattern here.
    1.Govt creates a problem(no reservoirs built since the 1960's) . Govt steps in to alleviate problem but requires new laws,more staff and more taxpayer money to fix (their) problem. Problem solved. Taxes,staff and laws remain.
    2. New problem created, Govt steps in...
    So what is the new problem? Mark my words , the next problem will be electricity supply in summer.Why ? Population way up. No new hydro electric plants built, San Onofre decommissioned, coal-fired plants outlawed by EPA, even Natural gas plants are on the EPA's target list.
    Now you know why life under any totalitarian govt is always so miserable.And if you don't, you are about to find out.

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    1. You nailed it.

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    2. Population isn't way up. It has held pretty steady with as many people bailing out of here as showing up.

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  17. There is no meter on a fire hydrant. Even if there was a meter -do you think any Water Dept employee or Staff would care?
    Until the 'minor branch' water mains (slow moving water has more time to react with cast iron pipes) are replaced ,the problem will remain. You may not notice it as much if the chemistry of the water is adjusted per our well-paid Consultant.
    The only long term solution is to replace all the affected mains with pipes constructed of material that does not react with chloramine.But that begs the question of why we need chloramine water in the first place.
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/27/drinking-water-with-chloramine.aspx

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    1. I agree. The only thing that really got flushed was the $50,000 Inman talked the city council into spending on the consultant.

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    2. Inman has a degree in flushing!

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    3. Flim Flam Flusher

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  18. What is the ALFs allocation?

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    1. Whatever they want. They pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars in Development Impact Fees into City Hall.

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    2. Remember Mr. Shield's pitch - the old don't use water, hardly at all...
      Same thing as the hillside developers. "We'll just take a little."

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  19. Be creative. I'm going to water outside plants with gray water from my dishes and laundry. I'm not ratting on anybody - least of all my neighbors. I also wouldn't mind posting my last water bill - 11 - for a family of 4, in my yard. This is about $65 a month. What if others did this too and we challenged each other to decrease our use.

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  20. One great way to preserve water is to stop the fracking in California. please go to Environment California and sign the petition for Gov Brown to STOP FRACKING!!!

    Mod, maybe you could do some research on this for the TAT? !!

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  21. I doubt the average person uses150 gallons per day for personal use such as for showering, shaving, flushing, washing clothes and dishes, the vegetable garden, coffee, lemonade, squirt gun fights, ice cubes for those 5pm martinis….

    No, the "average" person uses so much because that average is pushed way up by those who favor big green lawns. Many are beautiful, but that Bermuda grass you like so much comes from a climate that gets over 50" of rain per year--time to rethink that. How about more vegetable gardening with drip irrigation? Or at least water efficient ground cover.

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