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Clean water is near for Hillview Water Company customers in Oakhurst

Hillview Water Company President/CEO Roger Forrester, left, with California Public Utilities Commission Water Division Director Rami Kahlon at the utilities June 2 ribbon cutting, announcing $20 million in improvements to water quantity and quality. “This project is a vision realized - fulfilling the dream the company has had for the people of the Mountain Area since before 1998,” Forrester said.
Hillview Water Company President/CEO Roger Forrester, left, with California Public Utilities Commission Water Division Director Rami Kahlon at the utilities June 2 ribbon cutting, announcing $20 million in improvements to water quantity and quality. “This project is a vision realized - fulfilling the dream the company has had for the people of the Mountain Area since before 1998,” Forrester said. Sierra Star

Hillview Water Company customers in Oakhurst can finally expect clean tap water this fall, 20 years after the company discovered the contaminated water.

Ralph Fairfield, compliance and resource officer for Hillview Water Company, said the company is hoping the $20 million water treatment project that began last June will be completed by mid-October.

The company had promised its approximately 3,300 Oakhurst customers that they would have clean water by April of this year, but more delays postponed that until October.

“It’s been 20 years now that we’ve been working on this. It’s kind of getting exciting that we’re close to getting that done,” Fairfield said.

For those past 20 years, the company delivered business and residential customers water with levels of iron, arsenic, uranium, and manganese that exceeded California’s limits. Funding issues, an investigation by the Water Division of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and lengthy grant processes were few among the many issues Hillview had to address in its path to clean water.

But the company was awarded the grant money it needed and now the two Oakhurst treatment plants are near completion. Employee training is set to begin in the coming weeks and the electrical work is 100 percent complete, Fairfield said.

The plant in the Sierra Lakes will remove arsenic, iron and manganese, while the plant in Forest Ridge will treat the water for uranium. A third plant is also being built in the city of Raymond, Calif..

“When all these improvements are complete, it will result in water that is wholesome, potable, in no way harmful or dangerous to health and free from objectionable odors, taste, or color,” said Hillview president and CEO Roger Forrester last June.

Fairfield said while customers will not be charged for the construction of the plants, they can expect a charge for keeping them operational. The company is working with the CPUC to figure out what the cost will be.

Customer rates were increased 23 percent in 2015 to cover the company’s operational costs.

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