WRIGHTWOOD — A local state of emergency was declared Tuesday in order to allow more water to be trucked up to this mountain resort, the latest rural community to be hit hard in the aftermath of Southern California’s extremely dry winter.
Wells serving 2,595 customers dropped an unprecedented 40 feet after the Fourth of July weekend, said Joe Young, spokesman for Southern California Water Co., which supplies the town 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles in Angeles National Forest.
“It’s been so long since there’s been any ground water recharge at all from storms, it finally caught up with us,” Young said. “At the first of July we would not have predicted we would have to do this right now.”
Over the past week, the company has trucked in about 200,000 gallons of water to Wrightwood from nearby towns, which helped boost levels at one reservoir to 6 feet from only 2 feet. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor’s unanimous vote declaring a water emergency removes restrictions to allow more water to be sold to Southern California Water Co.
The resolution also calls on the governor’s office to declare a state of emergency.
Even with the outside water, “I think we’re going to be in a real tight situation at least through Labor Day weekend,” Young said.
At the end of the official rainfall year that runs from July 1 to June 30, Los Angeles had received just 4.4 inches of rain, down from an average of 15.1 inches of rain.
The below-normal rainfall has already caused other mountain communities that rely on well water, such as Big Bear Lake and Idyllwild, to conserve and order residents to restrict outdoor water use. The shortage hasn’t reached most urban areas, which are tapped into the State Water Project or Colorado River.
Some residents reported that their faucets went dry or just trickled over the weekend, said Supervisor Bill Postmus. Young said the dry faucets could have been related to pipes or pressure and would be dealt with one customer at a time.
John Rasmussen, who runs the Pine View House bed & breakfast, said he would be forced to turn away customers if his faucets went dry.
“The potential to affect the business is there, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “It’s very important for us that this current shortage be taken like a warning. There needs to be something done to ensure there is no shortage in the future.”
The Mountain High ski resort at Wrightwood draws its water from private wells so isn’t affected by the water shortage, said spokesman John McColly.