August 14, 2007

Lucerne Valley back on track

County will seek reimbursement from state

Daily Press [Victorville, CA]

SAN BERNARDINO — The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors ratified the emergency proclamation issued last week for the Lucerne Valley water shortage and forwarded a copy to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in hopes of getting reimbursed for relief efforts.

The estimate to date that the county has spent replenishing water for the desert community is $56,554.

“I’ve been told that there’s a good chance of getting some reimbursement,” said Brad Mitzelfelt, 1st District supervisor.

Mitzelfelt presented a PowerPoint to the board on the progress made in Lucerne Valley.

A joint enforcement action between the California Highway Patrol and California Department of Health Services on Aug. 1, shut down Lucerne Valley water haulers for not carrying the proper permits.

On Aug. 3, it reached 106 degrees in Lucerne Valley where many residents were without water.

“It was an artificially created crisis,” said Mitzelfelt, who added that the county was never notified of the sting operation. “There really should be no excuse for it ever happening again.”

Lucerne Valley doesn’t have a municipal water system and approximately 800 households depend on water to be trucked in.

The county sent around nine trucks over the weekend to deliver water free of charge to residents in immediate need and donated 1,488 gallons of bottled water.

Mitzelfelt said that by 6 p.m. Saturday, all immediate-need households in the Lucerne Valley area had received water.

He estimated that 90,000 gallons of water was distributed to about 170 homes last week alone.

Mitzelfelt said that it is yet to be seen if the cost of water will increase as a result of the actions but if the county has to take any further actions to ensure reliable water supplies, than it will do it.

“Bottom line is, this isn’t the end of the story, but the immediate emergency situation has been stabilized,” Mitzelfelt said.