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ENCINO : Residents Debate Plan for Filtration Plant

April 24, 1993|SCOTT GLOVER

A proposal to build a five-acre filtration plant near a reservoir pitted neighbor against neighbor in Encino this week as concerns about pure water and property values clashed.

The conflict arose over city Department of Water and Power plans to build a large filtration plant at or near Encino Reservoir.

"A filtration plant happens to be an absolute necessity," said Gerald A. Silver, president of the Homeowners of Encino. "It's imperative that the federal mandate be followed and not gutted by very narrow interests."

But other residents, particularly those living in areas where the proposed plant might be built, were opposed.

"Sure, we'd all like to have pure water coming out of our taps," said Alfred Glazerman of the Concerned Residents for Lake Encino. "But when you look at the huge sums of money and the fact that people are subject to hazards, you think again about this idea."

Glazerman and other homeowners fear that the proposed plant would lower property values, spoil lake views and pose a health hazard because of storage and use of chemical disinfectants such as chlorine and ozone.

Both water and power as well as city health officials emphasized that reservoir water now meets all federal and state purity standards, and is safe to drink. Despite those assurances, some residents have complained that the water is often discolored and foul smelling.

"There's a lot of unhappiness about the quality of the water we're providing," said Bruce Kuebler, director of water quality for the Department of Water and Power.

The reservoir is subject to untreated runoff of rain from surrounding hillsides. Officials are concerned that new, tougher water quality rules going into effect in June may mean the reservoir will fall out of compliance with clean water rules.

At the meeting, city officials presented five different sites for a filtration plant, three of them on the shores of the reservoir. A site selection is not imminent, officials said.

One woman, who appeared overwhelmed by the onslaught of charts and graphs, cut to the heart of the matter with a two-part question:

"Is the Encino water drinkable?" she asked sheepishly. "If not, what kind of bottled water should we buy?"

Gary Yamamoto, district engineer for the state health department's office of drinking water, assured the woman that the water is safe, adding, "If you decide to buy bottled water, it shouldn't be because you think your water is not safe."

Potential Water Filtration Plant Sites* * Fifth potential site west of the intersection of the San Diego and Golden State freeways in Sylmar

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