Zone 7 Water Agency directors have urged CEMEX to provide more transparency for the public. The Mexico-based sand and gravel company is in the process of filing changes to its reclamation plan for its gravel pits next to southwest Livermore.

Zone 7 officials said they were surprised in 2015 when CEMEX changed plans to extend operations at Lakes A and B but didn't let them know. The two quarries eventually will be turned over to the agency for water storage. The company later announced it wouldn't mine Lake A after all. Instead, it would complete its reclamation and turn Lake A over to Zone 7 by 2023.

The agency's directors said they were caught off guard again when CEMEX announced a delay in turning Lake B over. The agency expected that to happen in 2030, but now it'll wait until at least 2056.

Clear Communication

At an Aug. 21 meeting, Zone 7 directors insisted on transparency from CEMEX about its reclamation plans and noted the importance of the public’s role in the process. Meeting attendance was larger than usual. There were few audience comments, but directors asked technical questions, and insisted that CEMEX communicate with the public using clear, non-technical language.

Director Michelle Smith McDonald said many in the audience may not have understood the technical numbers. She suggested that CEMEX develop an outreach plan that the public understands.

“We urge Zone 7 and CEMEX to work together on the plan,” Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Dawn Argula said, noting appreciation that they're keeping the water supply safe. “We are planning for future generations, just as past leaders have,” she said.

CEMEX consultant Yasha Saber said the company has a communication plan in place that includes posting information on the quarry website. 

“We always try to meet with the community, and always talk in lay person’s terms," CEMEX spokeswoman Debbie Haldeman added. "We are constantly evolving communication plans, and are happy to give site tours.”

Aggregate Needed Nearby

CEMEX representatives said the Bay Area will need two billion tons of sand and gravel over the next 50 years. Keeping construction costs down will be important. The closer the quarries are to the job sites, the cheaper the construction.

Nearby projects that have used aggregate concrete include upgrades to Interstates 580 and 680, the new Kaiser care facility in Dublin, the Gale Ranch development in San Ramon, and Irby Ranch, which is under construction in Pleasanton. Cutting transportation mileage helps curb air pollution, too. So CEMEX is converting many of its vehicles to clean-burning trucks.

Savings are important to the taxpayers, Haldeman said. About 45% of construction in the region is paid by tax dollars, she said.

Happy Trails

Tamara Reus, president of Friends of Open Space and Vineyards, said she was pleased to see trails included in the reclamation project.

Saber noted that the Lake A segment of the trail already is in place. The Lake B portion would be developed before it’s turned over to Zone 7.

Zone 7 is only one stop along the path to reclamation plan approval. Alameda County and state and federal environmental regulators must sign off on it too.