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Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 09:01 AM

Mojave water agency building treatment facility near Sand Canyon

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Mojave Public Utilities District is moving ahead with the construction of a water treatment facility near Sand Canyon Road and Highway 58.

Commuters heading east from Tehachapi may notice a massive, off-green water tower being built near Sand Canyon Road and Highway 58.

The tower, while used to pump water, won't be impacting Tehachapi area water supplies or shipping it to Los Angeles.

Rather, it's a arsenic treatment facility for two of Mojave Public Utilities District's wells, according to the district's general manager.

Bee Coy Jr., Mojave PUD's general manager, confirmed on Aug. 4 that the well belongs to his agency.

Coy said the treatment facility is part of a project to comply with state arsenic levels for two of its wells -- Well No. 7 and Well. 8 -- in the Cameron Flats Well Fields.

"Those two wells have always exceeded arsenic levels, while our Well No. 9 has exceeded levels only once," Coy said.

Coy said the water tower is part of phase two of the project, paid for with $5 million grant from the California Department of Public Health to construct both the treatment facility and a new well.

Coy said the tower would be complete by Oct. 1. The two wells supply the California Highway Scales near Mojave and the small community of Cache Creek with water.

Water from the two wells could be blended with water from Well No. 6, which has always remained below state arsenic requirements for potable and drinking water. If necessary, the facility will also act as a backup storage facility.

"The water is not going to L.A.," Coy said to allay any concerns. "Mojave (PUD) has been getting its water from up there since 1938."

Coy said that his agency owns two wells that tap into the Tehachapi water basin.

However, a June 30, 1960, decision by the State Water Rights Board regarding a dispute between the district and Monolith Portland Cement Company, the predecessor to Lehigh Southwest Cement, prevents the Mojave agency from pumping it.

The dispute between the two companies revolved around Mojave PUD exerting its right to pump two cubic feet of water per second from the wells to supply to Cache Creek, Coy said.

He added that the district purchased those wells back in the 1950s from the railroad company that had initially developed them.

Kevin Wedegaertner, a Tehachapi resident with friends in Sand Canyon, initially had concerns about the water tower and whether it might deplete the water tables of residents in Sand Canyon.

"The folks I know out there will be relieved their water tables won't be dropping by all the pumping that was going to go on," Wedegaertner said by phone on Aug. 6.

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