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Noise of Drilling Dampens Reception for Water Well

Times Staff Writer

A water well being drilled in North Hollywood is the first of 15 planned by the Department of Water and Power to provide an emergency water supply for the San Fernando Valley.

The nine-month, $801,000 project will store a year’s supply of water for 400,000 Valley residents in case of drought or natural disaster such as an earthquake, a DWP spokesman said.

The water from the wells also will be used periodically to supplement the regular water supply, Senior Water Engineer Bill Kingston said.

But construction of the wells, taking place in a DWP right-of-way through a residential neighborhood between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and the Hollywood Freeway in North Hollywood, has prompted some nearby homeowners to complain about round-the-clock drilling, bright night lights and rumbling trucks.

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“The DWP came in here without forewarning any of the neighbors,” said Alvina Pressman, who lives behind where a beige derrick topped with an American flag was erected. “We were so scared when this huge derrick came up--pumping 24 hours a day, lights at 10 p.m., all the noise. We didn’t know what was going on, and it’s just not good relations for the DWP.”

Kingston apologized for the lack of notice to residents, saying “It was just something that got overlooked.” The contractor, Layne Western Co. Inc., had previously drilled in the vicinity without complaint, he said.

As for the noise, Kingston said the contractor “should have gotten soundproofing” around the derrick before beginning to drill. The 24-hour drilling, which took place two weeks ago at the onset of construction, was necessary to minimize the chance of a cave-in, he said.

“Water is usually found where the subsurface material is loose sand and gravel,” Kingston said. “The granule material can easily cave in, trapping drilling equipment in the hole and requiring the equipment to be abandoned.”

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He added that 24-hour, seven-day-a-week drilling could resume at any time, although the contractor is attempting to drill only 12 hours a day because of the complaints. If it is necessary to extend the drilling hours because of the cave-in danger, a barrier will be put around the derrick to muffle the noise.

“As long as that thing isn’t going all night, it’s not so bad,” said one woman who lives nearby.

After the well has been drilled, underground motors will pump water to the collection point at Vanowen Street and Morella Avenue in North Hollywood through a 16-inch pipe.


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