LARC pipeline set back two years while grant request stalls

In this Feb 2014 photo, Charles Sturkey, director of operations, walks past the 300,000 gallon capacity water tank at Larc Ranch. Local fire companies draw water from the tank in the event of a fire. However, only one of two wells that feeds into the tank is at capacity due to the drought. Residents and staff have cut irrigation and water usage in order to preserve the remaining water. 02/12/2014


When water released from the Bouquet Reservoir was reduced to a trickle more than four years ago, due to concerns about flooding roads, the situation left LARC Ranch residents high and dry.

And, rather than wait for a resolution to the year-to-year ongoing impasse to see reservoir water restored to its normal levels, ranch officials took the bold step of building a pipeline with the help of the SCV Water Agency — which was going to provide water to the facility that supports developmentally disabled people in the community.

It’s been close to three years since LARC Ranch Executive Director Kathleen Sturkey announced that ranch officials would look for a permanent water supply in light of the ongoing impasse and, still, water is trucked into the ranch at a cost of between $6,000 and $8,000 a month, she said Wednesday.

Water officials said last year the pipeline would be completed by the end of 2018. It’s now expected by SCV Water engineers to be completed by 2020, according to a memo sent to the agency’s engineering committee this week.

Engineers updated SCV Water board members on the pipeline’s progress at their meeting Tuesday, as it now looks like everyone involved is waiting to see if their grant request will be approved.

“Assuming a positive grant funding decision, we anticipate beginning final design in late 2018, and construction in early to mid-2019,” Keith Abercrombie, SCV Water’s chief operating officer, told The Signal Wednesday.

Pipeline construction

The LARC pipeline is 9,500 feet of 12-inch pipe put into the ground along Bouquet Canyon Road from Shadow Valley Lane to the LARC Turnout road.

“SCV Water continues to work with the State Water Resources Control Board in providing reports and studies in support of this project,” Abercrombie said.

“The Los Angeles Residential Community grant application is under review with the SWRCB, with a determination not expected for up to nine months,” he added.

Meanwhile, LARC officials who look after the wellbeing of more than 100 ranch residents continue to cope with more than 11,000 gallons of water having to be hauled up the dusty turnout road from Bouquet Canyon Road every month.

“Right now, we don’t know when it’s going to be completed,” LARC Residential Administrator Christine Bratzel said Wednesday, referring to completion of the pipeline.

“We’ve already exhausted our allotted $500,000 a year for water, and we still have to bring in water,” she said, noting LARC officials worked out a less expensive deal for the water with the hauler.

“We can’t afford to permanently haul in water,” she said.

LARC was founded in 1959 by a group of parents who envisioned a better life for their developmentally disabled children.

The 65-acre LARC Ranch provides homes, recreation and social activities, and day training activity centers for developmentally disabled adults.

Grant delays

Plans for the pipeline slowed in January when state officials considering the grant application filed on the ranch’s behalf by SCV Water.

“They said they wanted more information,” Bratzel said. “I needed to prove that all the people here are on a low income.”

The scarcity of water and cost of getting it is one of the huge factors in holding LARC’s annual fundraiser, she said, noting this year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14.

On a positive note, the city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which controls the release of water from Bouquet Reservoir has begun releasing a stronger trickle.

Flooding fears

A check with Los Angeles County Department of Public Work officials about the fear of flooding Vasquez Canyon Road revealed no concerns about flooding and road safety since the stronger flow of reservoir water was released.

“The (Bouquet) Creek is very carefully being looked at,” public works spokesman Steve Frasher told The Signal on Wednesday. “The creek itself, while not visible from the road, is recharging.”

For four, years local, state and federal officials have been debating ways of releasing water from the reservoir without causing any flooding.

“We’re still working with state and federal groups,” Frasher said. “We now have a Bouquet Creek Working Group. But, we haven’t yet hammered out a memorandum of understanding,” he said, adding, “it is not as dire a situation as it first looked.”

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