There’s an ongoing wastewater disposal problem at Comfort Inn and Suites in Three Rivers. For the past 20 years since the the development of the site, there has been problematic effluent. In wet years and during peak occupancy, it’s noticeable especially to nearby neighbors.
David Learned Sr. and son David, who own commercial property adjacent to Comfort Inn, place blame on the County of Tulare for not requiring a fix years ago. When longtime owners Peter and Kitty Lee (2006-2017) sold the property to new owners Bruce and Steve Kim, they pledged to find a permanent fix.
The County, for their part, offered tax incentives to help with the cost of the fix. But even after the Kims spent another $300,000 last winter expanding the system facilities, the problem persists.
The challenge for the Three Rivers Community Services District, whose charge it is to safeguard water quality in Three Rivers, is to bring all the stakeholders to the table and find a permanent solution. This was the backdrop Tuesday, June 19, for the onsite meeting arranged by Cindy Howell, CSD general manager.
Property owner Bruce Kim was there, as were representatives of the county, state, the contractor and, of course, the neighbors. The one consensus at the meeting was that all parties want a permanent fix.
Working within the parameters of county and state agencies is at best slow and arduous but the latest plan proposed by the contractor is to enlarge the leach field once again and upgrade the monitoring of the system’s flow regulators to anticipate excessive effluent.
David Learned Sr., who has owned the adjacent property since before there was a hotel, knows the site history and the geology intimately. He previously operated a laundromat on the property that had to be closed because there wasn’t a practical system that could remain unclogged by the lint and other solids in the laundry’s gray water.
The Learneds suspect that’s the same problem now, and expansion to the leach field as currently proposed will not fix the problem. Bruce Kim, for their part, said they are willing to do whatever it takes, even if that means doing laundry off-site.
Three Rivers can ill-afford to lose its largest lodging property — Comfort Inn and Suites has 104 rooms — or even some of its occupancy during the summer months.
So the clock is ticking again with a modification of a new permit on the desks of county engineers. CSD wants what’s in the best interest of Three Rivers. That can be nothing less than all the parties working together to find a permanent solution.
Since its creation in the 1970s, the Three Rivers Community Services District has accomplished a varied agenda of projects. Its primary focus has been water quality although it has another dozen latent powers that all potentially could be pursued to promote Three Rivers.
A current project of the CSD is to partner with the Three Rivers Historical Society and the County of Tulare to upgrade the water system for the new public restrooms on the Historical Museum property. The funds the CSD are providing for the new water system and operation of the bathrooms will be at least $22,500.