By Reggie Ellis

Three minutes was the difference between a green light to begin a new mining project near Woodlake.

That's how much time was left before the 5 p.m. deadline last Friday to file an appeal of the Tulare County Planning Commission's Jan. 12 approval of Kaweah River Rock's mining permit with the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.

The appeal was filed by Del Strange and Sue Crawford, co-spokespersons for the Valley Citizens for Water. In the appeal letter, the group argues that the Planning Commission did not adequately evaluate and address all of the key issues raised in the permit process. The four-page document identifies 14 issues it claims the Planning Commission did not address.

  • The affect on groundwater flows and well water levels. The document described the water recharge system as having "not been proven." The group claims a system similar to the one proposed in the FEIR is currently in use by KRR. It claims that "every well downgradient to their mine (some 25 or so) have failed and were replaced with new, deeper wells."

  • The water recharge facility. It claims that there is "no evidence" that the proposed groundwater recharge system will effectively mitigate any adverse groundwater impacts. After the mine has been excavated over 30 years, the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District will take over the site and manage a water recharge facility that will store rain water and water overflows and put that surface water into the groundwater. It also claims that there is no assurance the water district will operate or manage the recharge facility in perpetuity.

  • The affect on local wells. The appeal letter states that the Conditions of Approval "fail to protect landowners within the zone of impact from damages/loses of any kind due to the project. The group argues that KRR should be liable for any problems and that landowners should not have to spend their own money to prove they were damaged by the project.

  • Unsafe truck traffic on State Route 245 near the narrow bridge at Avenue 322. The group claims that a landscaped berm, used to reduce noise in and around the area, is in violation of the Tulare County Flood Control ordinances and places nearby properties at risk of flood damage.

  • Failure to consider alternate locations. Valley Citizens for Water, as well as other opponents of the project, repeatedly said they were not satisfied that KRR had considered all of its options, such as starting a hard rock mining facility in the foothills, which would have no affect on groundwater levels and flows." While other have begun mining in the foothills, KRRC has refused to do so; but instead, insist on destroying our groundwater resources by proposing to mine in the most sensitive portion of the groundwater aquifer immediately between the Kaweah and St. Johns rivers."

  • Some of the issues were in reference to policies and procedures of conducting public hearings.

    As of press time, there was no date set for the appeal to be heard by the Board of Supervisors.

  • Start typing and press Enter to search