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Letter: Big Basin Water Company Concerns

My wife and I bought our condo at the Boulder Creek Golf Course in 2014. When we were going over all of the details for purchasing, we were informed of the water company, but never considered reviewing its details (based on what we learned then, we would have bought anyway). We love the location between downtown and Big Basin SP, and we were fortunately spared fire damage from the CZU fire, although other homeowners nearby were less fortunate.

The other day I spotted several copies of the San Lorenzo Valley Post at a local market checkout counter, so I grabbed one. The articles were both of consequence and entertaining, and one article stood out regarding the San Lorenzo Valley Water District which, for good reason, gets a lot of publicity. This got me thinking of my local water company and if it was possible to get an article in your publication in order for Big Basin Water Company (BBWC) customers to get the transparency in communication they’re looking for from the company. I understand BBWC serves about 500 customer homes and lost about 200 of them to the fire.

After the CZU fire, we delayed returning to our condo because the BBWC facilities had burned down and they switched to their emergency backup well to provide minimal basic water needs, which was on do-not-drink order until mid-November, around the time we moved back here. We have been on water rationing since then, but now and indefinitely are on extreme water rationing orders from BBWC.

Many residents have ultimate reliance on this small family owned company as our only water resource. Also, some locals look at the family-run business as just another local family trying their best to help out other local families (which by all accounts is true). But the fact is that they are a company, we are paying customers, and this is an absolutely vital resource. This affects many aspects of our daily lives including our health and wealth (real estate value). After dealing with so much in the past year, people have been talking about BBWC as another of their concerns but are unsure what steps can be taken.

Here are few of the questions/concerns.

  • Process (approvals), timeline and re-build plans to restore full operation of the facility
  • Viability of emergency well usage until full facility operations are restored
  • Chances the emergency well runs dry
  • Duration for (extreme) water rationing
  • Affect on future monthly rates if a third (or some percentage) of the customer base is lost
  • Future plans for the family ownership of the company
  • Local authority over the Water Company
  • Possibility of merger or buyout from a larger water company

Many of us are looking for information and advice on how we can best pursue getting the proactive communication and transparency we need and expect from BBWC. Any communication they put on their website is reactionary and minimal and only following outages. We need to know the small and big picture of what is going on. It feels like we’re on an island with this matter as there appears to be no authority or oversight for this. But, perhaps somebody out there already knows or can find out more about the questions listed above (or more) and can share their insights. It also seems like a case where at least a little local bureaucracy would be a good thing for all.

Dan Hughes, Boulder Creek

Featured photo of a Big Basin Creek by SLV Steve

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