Recently, Westlake Village residents became aware for the first time of Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s plan for six weeks of daily explosives blasting near the dams that create the Las Virgenes reservoir. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s actually two dams, one on each side of the filtration plant, which hold the water back and create the reservoir. This reservoir is the primary storage of water for all Las Virgenes Municipal Water District customers from Westlake Village to Calabasas — the 3 billion gallons is about 3 months worth of supply for LVMWD customers.

It’s recently been discovered that in 1986, the City of Westlake Village published a letter from the then City Manager to the City Council about safe blasting requirements. This was in advance of the then City Council voting to approve a blasting permit for the creation of the Three Springs development (481 homes). Note: While the City Council approves this type of blasting permit for a real estate developer, it does not have jurisdiction for a utility such as LVMWD.

The 1986 City of Westlake Village document took the opinions of 8-10 experts and/or local agencies — including LVMWD — and the expert conclusion and comments to the City Council was that it’s safe to blast 1000 feet or more from the dam. In the current project (construction of the 5 million gallon tank), LVMWD has a memo from a Colorado based firm stating that it’s safe to blast 20 feet or more away from the dam.

Given the significance of dam safety to not just Three Springs, but to all of Westlake Village, the Division of Safety of Dams is now reviewing this discrepancy in opinion, and they’ve told residents that they will not approve the blasting plan until they feel comfortable the issues of dam safety are addressed and the questions are answered.

To be clear, it’s not an issue of whether the blasting is safe or not; it’s a matter of LVMWD needing to show this greatly decreased blasting distance from the dam is safe. LVMWD is reportedly planning to blast 35′ from the dam, and residents are questioning if the same level of engineering and prudence are being used as when 1000′ was determined as the safe distance several years earlier. With this new information being brought to their attention, this is what the Division of Safety of Dams is now reviewing.

At this time, LVMWD has begun preparation of the access road, and gearing up to begin the heavy construction and six weeks of daily blasting for the project.