Story by Miriam Raftery
Photo, left: "Would you want these kids breathing that, every day for 15 years?" -- Jessica Webb
June 5, 2015 (Lakeside) – Imagine up to 250 trucks a day – one every minute and a half—hauling sand along a rural road right in front of your house--five days a week for the next 15 years or more in El Monte Valley, if a sand mining developer has his way. It gets worse: noise and dust from sand mining operations clogging the area, kicking up potentially deadly Valley Fever spores lurking in soil here, where several El Monte Valley residents have already contracted the disease.
The sand loads would be transported for use on highways, roadways and other aggregate projects across San Diego County—potentially bringing sand laden with Valley Fever spores to construction projects near you. All thanks to a deal cut by Helix Water District to settle litigation over a golf course and water reclamation deal gone sour on land that Helix owned in El Monte Valley, a county-designated scenic view corridor.
This project has the Orwellian-like name “El Monte Nature Preserve” though all parties including the developer concede it is first and foremost a mining operation that will strip bare the valley for decades, lowering the valley floor 30 feet with dredging far deeper in places, in a project three times wider than Lake Jennings.