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Basin Pumping Project Could End Soon : Newbury Park: Residents and state officials have been concerned about damage to wetlands.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

County construction workers have finished digging a giant basin in Newbury Park designed to catch mud and debris during a heavy rainstorm, and officials say the pumping of ground water from the area is expected to end this month.

Area residents and state environmental officials have urged the county to cease pumping ground water from the area because the pumping may drain wetlands next to the project.

A report released last week by the Ventura County Flood Control District said construction of canals around the basin will continue for several months, but that there would no longer be a need to pump water from the area.

The project’s manager, Ed Gunen, said he was pleased with the progress on the basin, and he saw no sign of the environmental damage that some had predicted.

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Still, residents of the area said Friday that they are skeptical about the district’s report.

“They’ve told us so many different times that the pumping would stop that at this point we won’t believe it until we see it,” said Newbury Park resident Michelle Koetke.

“In the meantime, people here are saying that because of the pumping and the hot weather, deterioration around the wetland is becoming obvious,” Koetke said. “I just hope when they stop pumping they can restore it back to normal.”

Residents and city officials said they are now concerned about the appearance of the ditch, which covers the area of a city block on Reino Road between Lynn Road and Kimber Drive.

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Several residents compared the rock-covered basin to a giant reservoir and said they were shocked when they saw what was built.

“Boy is it big,” said Planning Commissioner Linda Parks, who recently drove by the basin to check on its progress. “I had no idea it was going to be that imposing.”

The basin, which was constructed next to nearly 90 acres of empty, overgrown marshland, can be easily viewed by motorists as they pass by on Reino Road.

In an effort to soften the visual impact of the basin, county officials agreed in late July to take a series of steps to beautify the area around the project.

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The county has agreed to plant trees along the perimeter of the ditch, landscape a strip of land that cuts between the basin and a hiking trail, remove all dirt that has been stockpiled on land around the basin and replace the chain-link fencing with a wrought-iron fence and stone pillars.

The county also agreed to replace a dozen oak trees that were removed to make room for the basin.

Some residents and city officials said they thought the county should do more.

“I think they should try to make it into a park with the basin as a water feature,” Parks said. “That way at least people can get some enjoyment out of it.”

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Koetke said she would like the area to be returned to close to its natural state.

“We’re hoping that they’ll stop the pumping and let the animals use the basin as a kind of pond,” Koetke said. “Right now it’s a blight. It’s an eyesore. Aside from the environmental impacts, it’s just hideous.”


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