As a resident of Claremont, I have seen my fair share of southern California wildfires. However, I was shocked and angered to learn that Golden State Water was to blame for starting the fire that put our community and homes in danger. Because of the actions of Golden State’s crew, we saw a reported 17 acres in Claremont go up in flames.
Despite admitting that they were responsible for the fire, they will not be required to pay for the firefighters’ efforts, and the costs related to the water-dropping planes and, ironically, they won’t pay for the thousands of gallons of water used to put out the fire.
Regardless of Golden State’s inattention to safety, I am so thankful for our firefighters who worked diligently to protect our homes and, more importantly, lives in Claremont. They were prepared and ready when we needed them most.
Now we are seeing Golden State at the center of another community crisis—this time near LAX. While they didn’t start a fire this time, their employees were involved in setting-off a dangerous methane gas leak, requiring the evacuation of homes and businesses in the area for several days. Families were displaced and forced to stay in motels until safety officials announced that the area was no longer in danger. But this time they will pay.
What is especially frustrating is that ultimately we, the water rate payers in Claremont, will be forced to pay for the damages that Golden State caused. The costs will not come out of Golden State’s profits, but will be included in next rate increase they will by lobbying for from the PUC in San Francisco.
While Claremont continues to fight for local control of our water company, we need to be mindful that local control is much more than just having input on our water rates. We need control over all aspects of our water system, including the safety precautions taken by water crews.
Dr. Anne K. Turner