MOUNTAIN HOUSE (CBS13) — A San Joaquin County community has avoided a crisis with a last-second solution to keep the water running.
Mountain House’s preferred solution involves buying water from a nearby district that’s also dealing with cutbacks. The fallback could have Mountain House shouldering big time state fines.
Faucets will still flow on Tuesday after a midnight deadline, said Mountain House general manager Ed Pattison.
The potential crisis was set in motion when senior water rights were cut off for the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District on June 12. That district was the sole water supplier for the decade-old community west of Tracy.
Mountain House scrambled for another source of water and they may have found it in a neighboring irrigation district facing cutbacks of its own.
The South San Joaquin Irrigation District confirms it’s in talks to sell Mountain House some of its stored water, though both sides say the deal isn’t done.
“We’re hoping to hear positive news by midday [Tuesday],” Pattison said.
The State Water Resources Control Board says water won’t be shut off, even if there is no immediate deal. The state has a health exemption for communities with no other water supply.
Mountain House is reluctant to utilize the exemption, since it bans all outdoor watering and prevents any new connections. That last part would mean Mountain House would have to stop construction on new homes. It could bring financial disaster to a community in deep debt that’s in need of the revenue new homeowners provide.
Instead, Mountain House will pay its original supplier to keep the water pumping until a transfer deal is done. The community will cover fines from the state that could reach $26,000 a day.
As complex as it is behind the scenes, residents like Zach Martin are just happy that one way or another they will still have their water.
“I feel a sense of relief, they can’t just turn the water off on us, I would hope not. That would be tragic,” he said.
The community is also looking to diversify its water supply beyond just the one source that seemed untouchable until this drought.