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Small foothill community gets its water back | News

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Small foothill community gets its water back

OPHIR GARDENS - Just over a year ago, the tiny community of Ophir Gardens, just west of Auburn in Placer County, had run almost completely out of water.

Trucks were hauling water in, and residents could barely stand to drink it.

"The water here was horrible, horrible," said Lea Upton, with a grimace on her face.

The community's well water had so much calcium it gummed up air conditioners; it tasted so bad that most residents wouldn't even use it to cook.

The state of California put Ophir Gardens on a list of 17 communities considered in crisis and decided to fast-track help.

Residents were skeptical, but the Placer County Water Agency went to work, quickly lining up two $500,000 grants from the state's emergency water fund and another from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Assistance Program.

Last September, Placer County Water Agency began work to extend a pipeline to Ophir Gardens. Water began flowing to taps in February.

"We have better water pressure, much better. Before it was like a drip. And the hot water, never in the kitchen, but now it's really good," Ophir Gardens resident Rita Bainbridge explained. "Yeah, I was amazed. It happened really fast. They got it together and got it done."

"This was a very quick project. The state moved very quick. USDA moved very quick," Placer County Water District P.E. Brent Smith said.

The state's list of communities in danger of running out of water has grown in the last year, but Smith said their project is proof the work can get done quickly.

"A small community water system that was struggling has been able to benefit by being consolidated into a larger water system," Smith said.

The residents of Ophir Gardens have become believers.

"Tastes better, smells better, take longer showers," Ophir Gardens property manager Robert Trosper said.

"It's gonna be nice for everybody not to have to rearrange themselves over the water truck," Bainbridge said.

The new water line is designed to be extended into surrounding areas if they begin running out of water as California's drought continues.


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