RIPON -The City is celebrating two major accomplishments for its water supply.
Thursday morning, officials dedicated a new, 1.55-million gallon water tower along Highway 99. The city filled it at the start of October.
Secondly, the city is about to receive nearly $1 million from Nestlé Inc. in a court case over groundwater contamination at the Nestlé plant, which closed in 1994.
The money is designated for development of new wells and to pay for filters on another.
“We see it as a real victory,” said attorney Jeanne Zolezzi, who represented the city in negotiations with Nestlé.
“It makes sense for the environment and our constituents. Nestlé can get this cleaned up once and for all, and without impacting any more of the city’s municipal wells.”
Nestlé produced decaffeinated coffee at its Ripon plant, near Manley Road and East Main Street, using toxic chemicals stored in above-ground tanks, Some of the wastewater from the decaffienation process went into the ground, some of the water came through leaks in a city pipeline and the rest from spills.
Nestlé stopped using the toxic chemicals in 1986, and then installed extraction wells to pump the toxic water out of the ground and to prevent the contamination from spreading.
Ripon installed filters on a nearby city well to keep out the contaminated water and asked Nestlé to pay for the equipment.
A year later, Nestlé asked the city to stop drawing water from two other wells. The wells draw water away from Nestlé’s extraction pumps, hindering the cleanup system.
Nestlé claimed that it was not responsible for the city’s extra costs. The company has spent 46.5 million on groundwater cleanup so far, and the effort continues.
The city and Nestlé negotiated a tentative agreement, then Ripon filed a lawsuit to formalize it, city officials said.
Under the consent decree filed October 17th in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Nestlé must pay $450,000 for the filters and $500,000 to help the city develop other water sources.
City Engineer Matt Machado said the $500,000 will go in the water fund for future use. The city is looking to construct two new wells; the project is now out to bid.
The Ripon- Nestlé agreement restricts the city’s pumping from the two wells that interfere with Nestlé’s cleanup effort. The city plans to reduce pumping from those two wells by 90 percent.