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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

San Bernardino County Water woes abating

San Bernardino County:
Water woes abating

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/12/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT


LUCERNE VALLEY - The water shortage that followed state authorities' recent move to shut down unlicensed water haulers appears to be getting close to ending, officials said.

"It's stabilizing quite well," Doug Lannon, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Friday.

Lannon said he arrived in Lucerne Valley on Wednesday evening. At the time, 16 households had run out of water and an additional 45 households had less than a day's worth of water in storage tanks.

"Obviously, it was a pretty emotional issue for a lot of people up here," he said. "It was a pretty significant incident for the people who didn't have water."

Officials called in two contractors who supplied seven water tenders and a water trailer to haul water around the desert, Lannon said.

He said truckers who could not carry water in their own tankers after the enforcement operation rode along with drivers and helped navigate water supplies to thirsty households.

Lucerne Valley High School football players helped fill tankers with well water, and several other community volunteers helped out during the water shortage.

The shortage occurred while temperatures

The water problem began when the state Department of Public Health teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to search for unlicensed water haulers in response to complaints that truckers were providing water without permits.

Many people in Lucerne Valley store water in tanks and rely on truckers to stay supplied with the precious resource.

Public health official Janet Huston acknowledged early last week that authorities did not anticipate the enforcement operation would prevent many desert dwellers from replenishing their water supplies.

In an effort to relieve the water crisis, public health officials elected to allow unlicensed water carriers whose equipment and water supplies did not pose a health hazard to resume deliveries after they applied for licenses.

"There are a lot more haulers here than certified haulers. The mistake the state made was not to give them a warning," said Chuck Bell, a board member of the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.

First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt's Web site features listings of carriers who are allowed to deliver water and wells where drinking water can be obtained. The supervisor's Web site is www.sbcounty.gov/bosd1.

As of Friday, the supervisor's office listed nine water haulers who have applied for licenses and a quintet of carriers who already possess licenses.

David Zook, the supervisor's spokesman, said people without computers will be able to access and print out online information at the Lucerne Valley Branch Library, 33103 Highway 247.

Lannon said water was delivered to 46 residences Thursday and an additional 67 households received water the following day.