Owners of controversial El Monte Valley sand mine speak for first time
EL MONTE VALLEY (KUSI) – They didn’t want to be here. Not at all. They wanted to build a couple of golf courses and be good neighbors. But that fell through. “We’re not here to build a Sand Mine Empire. We wanted to build a golf course, but the Helix Water District took away our water rights,” says Sand Mine Owner Bill Adams.
The road to the ‘El Monte Valley’ is a scenic one. It’s also a very complicated one. It started 20-years ago when Bill Adams and his investors “leased” 500-acres of land in the El Monte Valley. They were moving ahead with the golf course, when they hit a major obstacle.
“They told us we could not use the ‘ground water’ and we’d have to pay going rates for city water. With the price of water going up and the number of golf courses going down, we decided to change our plans,” says Adams.
As it turns out, that land is already ‘zoned’ for a mining operation. It has been for 70-years. “We’re not greedy, we just want to get some of our money back. We’ve already invested $40-million dollars in the project.”
Tuesday was the last day to comment on the environmental impact report. It could be 8-months before the report is approved and the permits granted. “We plan to get in and out as fast as we can and we only plan on mining 15-20-percent of the land,” says Adams “We also have a plan to restore that land to create open spaces and horse trails.”
That could be a while. The overall mining project could take 10-years to complete and another several years to restore. Threre are endangered species, ancient Indian burial grounds and an aquifer. “We have plans to be sensitive to all these issues,” says Adams.
The locals simply are not buying. They plan to fight this project, even if it means throwing themselves in front of the heavy machines, when they start digging.
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