The long road with Golden State

As a longtime Claremont resident and professor of chemistry (Pomona College1954-1994), with grandchildren growing up here, I have a keen interest in what living in Claremont will be like in coming years.With projections of increasing temperatures and drought, our water supply will be vitally important. Will we be able to accommodate a growing population,or even the current one? 

We have been importing half of the water we use, but that may no longer be possible. What can be done, and who will be in control of our water future? These are immensely important questions. The future of our families depends in important ways on having honest, factual information about water, and on how we vote on Measure W.

Because of my concerns, I worked with the League of Women Voters on the report “Water Issues In Claremont2005.” I helped write Claremont’s Sustainable City Plan, which calls for city-wide planning to use recycled water, and helped establish the community organization Sustainable Claremont, which I chair.

A decade ago, when we were preparing the water report, we were invited to meet with Floyd Wicks, then-presidentof Golden State Water Company, and others, including regional VP Denise Kruger. We met several times and developed cordial relationships. Floyd Wicks liked to say the company was built like a three-legged stool, with community relations being one of the legs. There was talk of taking Claremont out of the regional rate structure so we could set our own rates, and of possibly giving their share of the Thompson Creek Spreading Grounds to Claremont to be used as a low-impact public park and as a means of increasing the capture of water to replenish the aquifer. The Rivers and Mountains Conservancy funded a $200,000 grant to plan for the proposed park, but nothing came of it.

Mr. Wicks retired. Golden State apparently lost interest in working with Claremont. Water rates soared. Claremonters became outraged. The city council voted unanimously to look into acquisition of the water system. We are now in contention with those who once called us “part of the family.”

I often wonder what the situation would be now if Golden State management had not changed. Was it a mistake on the part of the new management to focus so intently on increasing profit, or will it prove to be a wise decision for them in the long run? The vote on Measure W will determine that.

Golden State has clearly become Claremont’s adversary. How sad it is to see them using a million dollars, paid for with our water bills, to mount a campaign against us, based on dishonest statements such as “it’s a tax,”“water bills will go up by $100 per month,” and “the system is worth over $200 million” (when the appraised value is $55 million). They clearly want to frighten us so they can keep monopoly control of ou rwater future.

As far as Mr. Wicks’ third leg of the stool, it’s collapsed. If Measure W fails, water rates under Golden State will soon be higher than they ever would have been with the purchase. What frightens me most is being helpless if Measure W does not pass.We will be at the mercy of Golden State management, and they may not have kindly feelings for Claremont.That’s why I am such a strong advocate for voting yes on Measure W!

Freeman Allen