The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Pat Doody 

Groundwater and traffic projects discussed

Tehachapi City Council Update


April 13, 2019

Pat Doody

Mayor Susan Wiggins presented a Certificate of Support to Rob Duchow of Southern California Gas Company. Duchow told the April 1 City Council that while Southern California Gas is trying to maintain a balanced approach to energy solutions, the State of California is trying to legislate the kind of power that is available to consumers. "California is trying to legislate and regulate how you heat and cook," said Duchow.

Groundwater Sustainability Project

"It's an exciting project that will change the way the City uses water and wastewater in the future," Public Works Director Don Marsh told the City Council at their April 1 meeting. As planned, the new Groundwater Sustainability Project would ensure a reliable, high-quality source of water for the City especially in dry years. In addition, it would also ease the reliance that the Tehachapi Cummings County Water District (TCCWD) has on the California State Water Project (SWP) at the base of the Grapevine. Since 1974 TCCWD has been allocated 5,500-acre-feet of water annually to be purchased by the City, Golden Hills and a few "other pumpers." However, over the last 10 years TCCWD has only been allowed to pump an average of about 46 percent of that amount annually.

Water has been a critical issue in Tehachapi since the mid-20th century. By 1972 the Tehachapi Groundwater Basin was nearly depleted. In 1973 the California Superior Court adjudicated the basin and established the TCCWD as "Watermaster" to manage the basin and its allocation of water. Since that time the basin has recovered but there is an increasing reliance on SWP water.

The City now has an opportunity to supplement their water supply using the proven practice of putting recycled water back into the groundwater basin in a safe, high quality and reliable manner creating a sustainable water system. The process is called Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR). Advances in treatment technology have allowed for the production of high-quality recycled water now a time-proven, sustainable method for replenishing groundwater and augmenting drinking water supplies.

The City will upgrade the filtration system at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) using filters and UV disinfection and instead of using the water for irrigation will direct the water to Blackburn Dam where it will percolate back into the aquifer for purification.

"Mother Nature cleans the water for us," said City Manager Greg Garrett.

Mike Nunley, project manager from MKN Associates who has been hired to oversee the project added, "The elegance of your project is that you have enough blending water without building a pipeline."

TCCWD head Tom Naisler said he has pledged support for the project. He has signed an MOU with the City as Blackburn Dam is owned by TCCWD.

The project has actually been in the works since 2015 when the City first envisioned the implementation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Capacity Expansion and Groundwater Sustainability Project. It is now entering Phase II which includes concept studies, engineering and the preparation of a CEQA Environmental Impact Report. The City Council unanimously approved $698,611 for this phase of the project using MKN Associates.

Traffic Mitigation Study

Increased traffic congestion on Tehachapi Blvd. in the area surrounding Love's Truck Stop and the Flying J Travel Center has prompted several conversations between Cal Trans and City staff. Although this increase was expected, the inadequacy of the interchange has become obvious and alternatives for on and off ramps need to be explored.

Development Services Director Jay Schlosser said, "The City received bids from three transportation consulting firms. While all the bids were within 10 percent of each other, Stantec Consulting Services was the lowest bid." The City collects traffic mitigation funds from new construction and the Council approved $50,000 of these funds for the study.

Following the study, Stantec will be making recommendations for rerouting entrance and exit points for Highway 58 near Love's and Flying J possibly using points on Steuber Rd. and Monolith St. or perhaps using roundabouts.

Councilman Ken Hetge said that he has heard complaints from Sand Canyon residents who no longer can drive easily into town on Tehachapi Blvd. but are now using Hwy. 58.

Tehachapi City Council meetings are held the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Wells Education Center, 300 S. Robinson St.


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