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AVEK Wants High-speed Rail Tracks on Alternate Route

AVEK sent a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority on November 16, 2022 regarding the Agency’s comments about the Palmdale to Burbank section of the project as described in the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement.

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In that letter, prepared by AVEK Engineering Manager Justin Livesay, he thanked the High-Speed Rail planners at their Southern California Region Office for the opportunity to submit comments. Justin explained that AVEK is a public water supplier as well as a State Water Contractor that provides water, a natural resource, to consumers in parts of the Antelope Valley, with its territory including sections of both Los Aneles and Kern counties.

“We have reviewed the Draft EIR/EIS document and have attached our comments,” Justin stated. “The preferred alignment will result in a major, currently unmitigated impact to a key piece of Agency infrastructure and a vital component to the service of potable water supply to the community of Acton – AVEK’s Water Treatment Plant located on Sierra Highway, south of Barrel Springs Road in Palmdale,” he noted in reference to drinking water quality supplies.

“After reviewing the Draft EIR/EIS document and meeting with High-Speed Rail Authority team members on multiple occasions, it is not clear that the extent of the impacts to the existing and future storage tanks, sludge beds, electrical switchgear, intertie with neighboring water agency, and pump station are fully understood,” he added.

Justin pointed out the numerous challenges involved when relocating an operational pump station and storage tank as well as the underground piping and electrical equipment needed to move and deliver the water. He emphasized the fact that this project, if constructed as planned, will disrupt the critical water being supplied to the people in Acton – residents, businesses, and facilities such as schools.

“After careful consideration and discussion with our Board of Directors, we find the proposed relocation plan, and therefore, the proposed alignment of the High-Speed Rail in this vicinity unacceptable. We urge the HSRA to consider choosing one of the alternative alignments which eliminates these impacts.”

The letter and a discussion were presented to AVEK’s Capital Improvement Program Committee on October 31, 2022, and to the full Board of Directors at their meeting on November 22, 2022. At that time Board members unanimously approved sending the letter to the High-Speed Rail Authority.

AVEK Assistant General Manager Matt Knudson told the board that the High-Speed Rail Authority had six alternatives.

“All routes involve both surface and tunneled portions of track,” Matt said, noting the track comes through AVEK’s service area south of Lake Palmdale. The footprint of the alignment goes over the top of the clearwell.

When AVEK staff expressed concerns, the High-Speed Rail Authority proposed relocating the storage tank and the pump station, which would involve disruption of service.

Relocation of those facilities won’t work, according to Matt. “There has to be no interruption of the facilities.”

The current proposal would result in a “significant cut into the hillside,” Matt said. “It’s on property we don’t own. Right now, we aren’t proposing to accept this concept.”

AVEK General Manager Dwayne Chisam told the board that the Rail Authority is “moving forward with the San Joaquin portion” of the project.

AVEK Director Audrey Miller suggested sending a copy of AVEK’s letter to the state legislators, like Assemblyman Tom Lackey.

Dwayne agreed, saying, “it’s a good idea to provide legislators with our comments.”

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