Northern California town out of water : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Northern California town out of water, Governor declares emergency. By Alexa Haussler ASSOCIATED PRESS March 16, 2001

SACRAMENTO While most of the state is fretting power shortages, the city of Rio Dell is more concerned about running out of water.

Rio Dell's 3,000 residents are relying on bottled water to drink, cook and bathe because one of the city's three wells has completely failed and the other two are nearly dry, according to city and state officials.

Because of the shortage, Gov. Gray Davis on Friday declared a state of emergency in the city, which is about 160 miles northwest of San Francisco.

"It has gotten to the point where they didn't have an adequate supply for firefighting nor for drinking," said Richard Eisner, regional administrator for the governor's Office of Emergency Services.

The declaration means the state will provide money for the city to pump water in from Scotia, a private mill town owned by Pacific Lumber Co., said Rio Dell City Manager Loretta Nickolaus.

She estimates the temporary fix will cost about $250,000, and will buy the city time to plan a long-term solution, such as building a water treatment plant and piping in water from the nearby Eel River.

"It's a huge relief. We didn't know what we were going to do if we didn't get help from the state," Nickolaus said.

In January, the city where more than half the population lives under the poverty level had three straight days with its taps completely dry, she said.

"We were pulling air out of our wells, and then we got some rain," Nickolaus said. "Now the rain has gone away. People will turn on the water and it's just a dribble; You can't flush your toilet; We can't fight fires and we are in the middle of a redwood forest."

-- Martin Thompson (, March 17, 2001

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