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Residents of Ophir Gardens no longer have to worry about having a safe, reliable water supply.

The cluster of 16 cottages on a four-acre parcel between Auburn and Newcastle attracted widespread attention a year ago when it was identified by the California Department of Public Health as one of 17 rural communities in the state with vulnerable water systems because of the drought.

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Even before the state’s announcement, the Placer County Environmental Health Division and Placer County Water Agency were aware of the water woes at Ophir Gardens and working to find a permanent solution.

Late last month, their efforts paid off when PCWA put into service a 2,200-foot pipeline along Ophir Road that connects Ophir Gardens with one of the agency’s existing treated water pipelines.     

“This is a great example of public agencies and a community working together to solve a problem involving a basic service most of us take for granted,” said 5th District County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “I am very impressed by the collaboration among everyone involved – and their success in finding a solution that ensures Ophir Gardens residents will have a safe, secure water supply in the future.”    

Completed before nearby Interstate 80 was built, Ophir Gardens was able to rely on a single well for many years. The drought caused the well’s production to drop to the point where it was producing less than a gallon per minute. To supply enough water during peak-demand times, the owners turned to an expensive, short-term solution: trucking water in to help fill their holding tanks.

During the fall of 2013, Environmental Health, PCWA, and owners of Ophir Gardens began meeting with state officials to discuss potential water system improvements and funding opportunities.

The California Department of Public Health provided a $500,000 grant through its Public Water System Drought Emergency Response Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture committed a $500,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant.

Last September, the PCWA Board of Director’s approved a construction contract for the $1.1 million pipeline extension project.

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