On July 23, homeowners of Lakeshore Park delivered an almost unanimous written petition in opposition to privatization and consolidation of our water resources at Lakeshore Park WMD-6, at a meeting held at the Oakhurst Library by county officials.
Why did we do this? In 2014 the Bass Lake Water Co. received a letter of Non-Compliance for lacking a reliable source of water and was ordered by the state to allow no further connections to its system. You can see the Sierra Star story at sierrastar.com/2015/03/11/72251/drought-forces-state-compliance.html, and a letter concerning the situation from the Bass Lake Water Co. at basslakerealty.com/bass-lake-water-company-update/.
Willow Creek has been dry since last January. Bass Lake Water Co. customers reported their water rates doubled immediately after privatization. MD-6 has endured undrinkable water for more than 40 years. We learned the way to fix our problem was to install filters to get rid of specific toxic/carcinogenic elements such as arsenic and uranium. We got bids from reputable companies, and we learned $300,000 would cover this job.
After five years, Madera County finally gets a state loan/grant. It requires a $257,000 feasibility study, drilling of test wells ($250,000 each), and more feasibility studies until at least $785,000 has been spent and still no action.
The feasibility group pushes for combining Lakeshore Park, Marina View, and the private Bass Lake Water Co. This will be done by building a mega water plant that costs millions of dollars and three more years of waiting. It will also abandon or take over good facilities at each site that are in working order. When asked how many millions for the big plant ... the answer ... we can only give “an opinion of probable costs.”
We have learned running proposed pipes will cost $1 million per mile. The feasibility report tells us the entire total cost of the plant will probably be $1,138,000. Distrust grows. We could have cleaned the water in MD-6 and 7 for less than what has already been spent, and the highly paid feasibility consultants failed to find out what MD-6 wants or needs. If this were done, it would have been learned we have a very important need to create savings to replace 50 year-old pipes.
After studying the Bass lake Heights Water District off Crane Valley Road (426), we learned it provides water to 96 connections and meets all state and federal law requirements for $400 per year or $100 per quarter. per customer. Its water had arsenic, and they got bids from established companies to remedy the problem, and the job was completed for $60,000. The water was pure, they had no feasibility studies, drilled no test wells, got no grants, or bureaucratic nightmares, or decades of delays.
Madera County continuously monitors their system and it’s performance meets all standards. The BL Heights district is a non-profit corporation and operates on an annual income of $32,770. Bass Lake Heights is a worthy model that could be adapted to our situation in Lakeshore Park.
Bass Lake Heights uses common sense, actual costs, and solid financing. Was Bass Lake Heights studied or reported by the consolidation feasibility consultants? No.
At the July 23 meeting residents of Lakeshore Park, and Marina View learned we may not receive any funding unless we agree to the consolidation (give up our entire water system and water rights). This feels to us like blackmail. We are faithful taxpayers, and we pay water bills. We are entitled to grant money provided by taxpayers to buy our needed filter on an equal basis with other districts. This has nothing to do with building a large water treatment plant for the private Bass Lake Water Co.
Further, we learned there was a meeting last October where the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved consolidation. I don’t remember any notification of the meeting (due process), or that there would be a vote regarding our district. We learned of this nine months later.
Lastly, current Bass lake Water co. stage 3 water restrictions prohibit outside watering, including trees or plants/landscaping, washing of cars or boats, and if you get caught, you could face a $500 fine and/or having your water service shut-off. Homeowners have lost their fire insurance due to dead trees and landscaping. We don’t want to live like that.
We want clean water without strings ... We want services of our excellent MD-6 technical maintenance staff. Give us alternatives that make common sense. Block consolidation - Save taxpayers millions.
Bill Troost, Chair, Clean Water Lakeshore Park, Bass Lake