- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—REDDING, California — In northern Shasta County sits Crag View, population of about 110, and running out of water. At the moment, Crag View is part of a contentious debate over water rights and rate hikes with Shasta County Department of Public Works.

Most of the year, Crag View pumps its water from a nearby creek. But during summer months, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sells water to the rural neighborhood. As a result of its junior water right and California drought conditions, Crag View will only receive a quarter of its water supply this summer.

A third party has offered to sell water to Crag View at a discount and residents agree it would be the best course of action. But according to Public Works, residents don’t have the necessary funds in their balance to purchase the water and residents of Crag View have opposed talk of a rate hike to cover the cost as it’s currently offered by Public Works.

Now Crag View is looking at a summer with a quarter of its water demands met.

At a recent Shasta Board of Supervisors meeting, residents of Crag View vehemently opposed any proposal of a rate hike as worded because of fear that it would set precedent for future rate increases.

Residents of Crag View claim that Public Works have misappropriated funds and demand an audit of the agency’s finances.

Public Works will recommend to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday a series of conservation measures for Crag View’s service area. Those measures include restricting water use to 225 gallons per connection per day, prohibit outdoor irrigation and require mandatory water meters for Crag View. Public Works will also pursue criminal and civil penalties for those found violating these restrictions.

Shasta County Supervisor Bill Schappell, whose district includes Crag View, says the issue is a big misunderstanding.

“Their concern about automatic rate adjustments is that it would set precedent for future bill rates. (Residents) simply won’t agree to the way it’s currently worded,” said Schappell.

Residents in Crag View claim they have $16,000 in a resource fund to pay for water offered by the McConnell Foundation, which will sell water to the service area at $250 per acre-foot. Public Works Director Pat Minturn says otherwise, noting the amount available in the current fund balance is much less and not enough to cover the amount of water the small neighborhood would need for the summer months. On average, Crag View consumes 14 acre-feet of water for the summer months. But with proposed cuts, they will only receive 3.5 acre-feet.

According to Minturn the rate increase would be temporary, a wholesale increase of 70 cents per 100 cubic feet or more like an additional $30 for Crag View residents on their bimonthly bill. With California’s ongoing drought and more communities demanding water, residents of rural communities are feeling the pinch because of their junior water rights.

Crag View is located on the cusp of Shasta and Siskiyou counties. Crag View resident Bob Wheeler said he thinks Public Works pays little attention to the concerns of his neighborhood throughout the year.

“What the hell good is a nine-month water right? I’m pretty sure people live 12 months out of the year,” said Wheeler, who thinks Crag View would benefit from walking away from Public Works’ service area.

As a county service area, Crag View is expected to appoint property owners for a community advisory board to coordinate with county supervisors. As liaisons for the community, these property owners would be able to voice their concerns over future rate hikes, but Public Works says that not one resident of Crag View has volunteered for the community advisory board, while residents claim to have applied for the board, but never heard back from the county.

Colleen Batman, a Crag View resident, would like to be involved in the conversation about her water bill.

“We have 73 water connections here and we’ve never had a bad bill go late. We’ve asked Public Works to include us in the process, but they don’t give us options until the last minute. Now we’re stuck in this mess,” said Batman.

Now Crag View residents are threatening to break away from the county’s service area and become independent. A third option on the table is for the county to foot the bill on the McConnell water sale, but Supervisor Schappell says that it unlikely as Crag View’s service area may become insolvent and unable to pay back the county.


(c)2015 the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.)

Visit the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) at www.redding.com

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