President Sol Chooljian started, then stopped, and this month restarted a project to determine if there is a better site for Well #7 than 191 Alviso. Nobody knows his thinking (the board was not involved), but there are at least six reasons to do a comprehensive site selection process, all relating to unanticipated problems at 191 Alviso.
- The board expected that a well at 191 Alviso would be welcomed by neighbors as ridding the neighborhood of a vacant-lot eyesore. Since then they have discovered that the neighbors and the HOA have bigger concerns than visual impact, and they urged the County to deny the permit.
- Well #7 costs are out of control, and it is likely that some other sites would cost less from start to finish than the future costs of Well #7.
- The budget for Well #7 in January 2019 was $2.5 million, including ~$73,000 for design and permitting, which have—so far—actually cost $884,000, which will increase if a new application is submitted for this site.
- Drilling and casing was budgeted at $800,000, but the low bid in July 2021 was $1,794,379.
- The original design for Well #7 included $145,000 for a 1,600’ pipeline ($91.62 per foot) to move produced water up to the treatment plant, but in July 2021 a Crestview contractor estimated over $200 per foot for the cost of similar pipelines.
- The GM has estimated it would cost $475,000 to restart the treatment plant. The pipeline was informally dropped from the design, but it and the treatment plant may be necessary.
- There was nothing in the budget for neighborhood impact mitigation. Crestview did not understand until after it filed its permit application that the well would create big problems for neighboring septic system owners. Until Crestview solves this problem, it is impossible to budget the cost of solving it.
- The HOA denied approval of the Crestview submission for 14 different reasons. Some HOA members are seeking an amendment to the CC&Rs to make clear that new water wells are not forbidden but, if successful, there may still be 13 other reasons for the HOA to block the project.
- The hydrogeological justification for Well #7 was that it was halfway between former Well #3 and Well #4, both of which were satisfactory in quality and volume. However, the recent project to lower the pump in Well #4 found that continuing tectonic movement has distorted the well casing so much that a smaller pump had to be used and the estimated future life of the well may be as short as five years.
- The deeper water being pumped from Well #4 now is lower quality, and Well #7 is designed to draw exclusively from the deeper, lower-quality aquifer.
- The risk that a new permit application for 191 Alviso will be denied again is large. Crestview had three hearings on the prior application—the Planning Director who made no decision, the Planning Commission that denied it 5-0, and the Board of Supervisors that denied it 5-0. If the new application looks like the former application, it is hard to imagine a different result unless those formerly in opposition switch to support it.
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