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Caldor Fire survivors in Grizzly Flats grapple with lack of clean drinking water

By Stephanie Lin

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    GRIZZLY FLATS, California (KCRA) — The Caldor Fire nearly decimated the town of Grizzly Flats, destroying hundreds of homes and laying waste to its water distribution system. That’s creating additional challenges for repopulation efforts.

“We’re working our hardest to get everybody water,” said Jodi Lauther, general manager of the Grizzly Flats Community Services District, which treats and provides water for the town.

Miraculously, the treatment plant escaped the flames, but the water from the reservoir it draws from still needs to be tested.

“There’s a lot of damage,” Lauther added.

Her team is assessing miles of service lines and meters on hundreds of properties across town.

“We found some intact, some of them are burned and damaged from the fire,” Lauther said.

Even pipes buried underground were not spared from the flames.

“PVC line that was two feet deep was burned because of tree roots on fire. This was a water line serving someone’s home,” Lauther added.

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The Community Services District has only one water tank to hold all the treated water for Grizzly Flats. The other two tanks were lost in the fire.

“It’s heartbreaking and I feel so much for our community,” Lauther said. “We are strong, we are stubborn, we are resilient, I have no doubt we will come back. But it’s hard right now.”

Lauther estimates it will take at least a year before the water distribution system will be back to where it was before the fire. Before the Caldor Fire, the Community Services District served 615 homes. Now Lauther says there are about 200 homes left.

Anyone interested in donating bottled water to wildfire survivors is encouraged to get in touch with the Grizzly Flats Community Services District.

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