March 1, 2011

Pioneertown will pay for its water

A Letter from Gay Smith
Pioneertown Property Owners Association
Hi-Desert Star

I would like to set the record straight — Pioneertown water users are not going to rip off Yucca Valley.

We have a serious water problem, both quantity and quality, that the county has been trying to solve for the last 10 years. Before that time we had the best water in the whole area, but with prolonged drought, the water table dropped, which caused nitrates, arsenic and heavy metals to leach into the water line that is provided to the community by eight wells, two of which are no longer on line due to the high concentrates of cancer-producing contaminates.

In 1999, we started receiving letters along with our high water bills, warning us not to drink the water.

In 2009, the state Health Department sent the county Special Districts a letter stating that the water situation in Pioneertown must be fixed, or fines will be imposed on the water users.

Many of us, besides paying for water we cannot drink, buy bottled water and/or have reverse-osmosis systems under our sinks. The cost that was stated in a Wednesday Guest Soapbox for a reverse-osmosis system is just the tip of the iceberg. Every six months you have to hire a plumber to have the four filters changed. The filters are not cheap, ranging in price from $30 to $130 for each one.

You must remember, too, that we have to bathe in this water, and we feed it to our pets. We have had many strange illnesses and deaths to our pets that cannot be fully explained. Pioneertown residents have also experienced a high rate of cancer in its citizens for a small community.

The county has looked into dozens of ways to fix our problem. Each has its own problems and can, in many cases, cause more problems than are fixed. They have been working with the Mojave Water Agency to come to a conclusion that would be fair to all.

The people of Pioneertown are willing to pay their fair share. We will be paying for our water to the county as we now do and they in turn will pay the Mojave Water Agency for water, which will be banked in the underground holding area in Landers. The water would then be sent in Hi-Desert water pipes to another location. For the use of the pipes, Hi-Desert would also get some of the water allotted to Pioneertown.

The engineers found that the best route would be over Skyline Ranch Road, but that route was nixed by the residents on Skyline Ranch Road. They did not want the 8-inch pipe to go down the middle of the road, which would be covered and returned to its original state. This route would certainly be much cheaper to the people living in Pioneertown.

Since that route was taken off the table, the alternate route is up Pioneertown Road, which is much more expensive.

The water that we pay for and bank must then be sent to the settling pond on Pioneertown Road and then pumped up the middle of Pioneertown Road. This is a public road and would not be on a preserve or on private land. There will be a small parcel of land on the side of Pioneertown Road owned by the Conservancy that a tank will have to be situated on.…

I don’t think moving from the area is an option for any of us. This is like telling the people of Yucca Valley if they don’t like the sewer system, to move.

We are not about destroying the enviroment. The pipe will be underground and covered. But most important of all, we are not taking water from the people of Yucca Valley and we are paying for what we get.