In Twentynine Palms last night, a group of concerned residents gathered outside City Hall to express fears around the location of the proposed wastewater treatment plant. Reporter Heather Clisby was there and has details …
Just one hour before the start of last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting, approximately 20 residents gathered at Veterans Park, adjacent to City Hall, to attend a ‘Stop the Sewer’ rally.
Led by resident Joseph Carder, who organized the event and spoke at length, the rally was held in protest of the proposed location of a wastewater treatment plant – east of the post office, off of Desert Knoll Avenue and Buena Vista Drive.
According to the groups’ website, StopTheSewer.org, and a related flyer, the citizens are pushing back against the council’s location decision and voicing their concerns about possible drops in nearby property values, “an average of $20K, as much as $10-25 million total.” The flyer also included a graphic with a one-mile radius that could be affected by an odor emitting from the treatment plant. When asked, Carder could not provide verified sources for either of these claims, though it was determined that “two real estate agents and an ‘online source’” were at the root of the numbers and projected radius.
Attendees included resident Andrew Fulbright, who worried that monthly sewer rates would drive retired seniors like himself out of the area. Resident Clyde Kern chimed in with an observation, “It seems they are looking for a solution where there’s no problem.”
Councilmember Octavious Scott, who represents the area, also attended the rally. In addressing the crowd, he discussed growing up in Palms Springs and how a treatment plant was built in a disenfranchised neighborhood called DeMuth Park and how the residents often complain of a persistent smell.
Scott stated that he has toured the wastewater treatment plant in Yucca Valley and had one burning question in mind. “I asked the plant manager, ‘Does it ever stink?’ He said, ‘Yes. Every day it stinks for at least 15 minutes at 6:00 a.m.’ Scott said. “I got to find out, only for 15 minutes? You know things start lingering in the air, right? So, I mean, if it’s stinking for at least 15 minutes, you got to maybe double that or triple that.”
Scott told the crowd that additional studies may be required before the project moves forward. “In some ways, we are putting the cart before the horse. We need to do the USGS study. Once we do the USGS study, which takes five years to complete, we will know how long we have until we have a problem with our groundwater. We should not be planning things, without doing these studies and that’s the important thing that we need to take away.”
At a June council meeting, Scott made a motion to further explore alternative locations for the plant. The sewer was not on the agenda for the subsequent council meeting.