By MIKE McCOY Press Democrat Staff Writer
Santa Rosa City Attorney Rene Chouteau said Tuesday the city has reached an agreement to buy property that could help settle three lawsuits against The Geysers wastewater disposal project.
Chouteau said acquisition of a 92-acre rock quarry on the lower reach of Pine Flat Road has been a key demand of the Alexander Valley Association, which has filed three lawsuits against the wastewater pipeline.
The city has secured an option to buy the quarry for $2.1 million, but the agreement is contingent on the Alexander Valley group dropping its lawsuits.
Les Perry, the association's attorney, said a vote isn't expected for several weeks.
Both Perry and Chouteau declined to outline other issues that may be addressed in the proposed settlement agreement.
A previous agreement, which also contained the city's promise to purchase the quarry, was rejected by association members several months ago.
But, Perry said Tuesday: "I believe this one has a greater opportunity of being approved.
"The current settlement proposal has been enhanced since the last one that was taken to the membership, and this one has broader-based support."
Although the quarry isn't operating, Alexander Valley residents have worried for years about the prospect for heavy truck traffic if the county were to grant a permit for owner Jerry DeWitt to mine the site.
Ed Brauner, the assistant city manager in charge of the pipeline project, said the City Council will not consider another settlement until it has first won the association's support.
The association has three lawsuits pending against The Geysers' project, which would run a 41-mile pipeline from Santa Rosa's regional treatment plant west of Rohnert Park through the valley and up Pine Flat Road to The Geysers.
Santa Rosa wants to pump 11 million gallons a day to The Geysers to be injected into the ground to generate steam and electricity for the city's partner in the $132 million project, Calpine Corp.
In a separate agreement approved in May, the city and the Alexander Valley Association cleared the way for Santa Rosa to begin installing eight miles of pipe at the south end of the route at a cost of $15.7 million.
Construction began last month.
In exchange for allowing it to go ahead, the city agreed to: reimburse association attorneys $175,000 in legal fees; try to reroute the pipeline off Alexander Valley Road; and make efforts to share any surplus wastewater in the pipeline with north county farmers.