MONTEREY PARK — In response to angry residents who invoked the specter of flooded neighborhoods, the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has delayed until next month voting on a $28-million plan to rebuild the cracked Garvey Reservoir.
Last Thursday the board granted a 30-day postponement so that water district engineers could review reports from Monterey Park's consultants who questioned the thoroughness of a favorable environmental study.
Since cracks were discovered in 1989 and the reservoir was consequently drained, Monterey Park officials and residents have fought to keep the reservoir closed. The cracks had led to the flooding of a dozen residences.
Contending that Garvey Reservoir is an important link in providing water to millions of Los Angeles County residents, water district officials say they want to repair and reopen it as soon as possible.
An environmental study, completed by the district in June, said the repairs can be done to ensure the safety of the neighborhood that surrounds the 41-acre reservoir on a hilltop in the southeastern part of the city.
But last Thursday, more than one dozen residents and governmental officials spoke for about an hour in support of Monterey Park's desire to keep the facility closed, questioning the earthquake-safety of a rebuilt reservoir.
"Residents are understandably fearful of the potential dangers," said Janet Lim, one of the speakers and an aide to Assemblyman Xavier Becerra (D-Monterey Park).
Another speaker, Monterey Park Mayor Samuel Kiang, on Monday reiterated the community's stand: "We are unanimous in opposing the reopening of the reservoir. We are going to take all kinds of measures to stop them. That includes legal means, if we have to."
Kiang said the water district, in preparing its environmental impact report, failed to investigate fully the source of the cracks in the reservoir.
The June study concluded that "normal forces within the earth, perhaps intensified by the 1987 Whittier earthquake and smaller quakes, caused the cracks." The facility was built in 1955.
After hearing the Monterey Park complaints, the 51-member board "was most sympathetic" to further study of the seismic issues and other technical concerns brought up by the city's consultants, said water district spokesman Lee Gottlieb.
Although preliminary indications are that "there is no new information" in the reports from Monterey Park's consultants, Metropolitan's environmental project manager Thomas Ryan said the water district staff will closely review the technical criticisms of the environmental study.
Ryan said he will present the results of the review to the board Sept. 15 when it is scheduled to reconsider approval of the environmental impact report.
The environmental study explored eight options, including three methods of repairing the reservoir.
The study also weighed the possible merits of relocating the facility to four other locations comparable in elevation and physical features to the Garvey Reservoir location. Three sites are in Los Angeles and one in Monterey Park. Each would require the removal of hundreds of houses and cost "hundreds of millions of dollars more than repairing Garvey Reservoir," the study said.