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Water From New Well May Make Surprise Gift for Parched Green Valley

December 03, 1992|JEFF PRUGH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two years after Green Valley, a rustic community tucked away in the mountains 20 miles north of Santa Clarita, had to severely restrict their water usage as the most seriously drought-affected locality in Los Angeles County, residents may be on the verge of relief.

A test well, drilled 1,000 feet into bedrock, produced a water flow this week of 50 gallons a minute, Green Valley County Water Board officials said Wednesday.

If tests for water quality prove favorable before the board meets next Thursday, some restrictions against water usage may be relaxed next year, board President Jim Billesbach said.

The water must meet California's strict environmental standards, he said, but "it looks encouraging because we're up here in the mountains, and the water isn't likely to be contaminated the way it would be if we lived in the city and had to contend with dumps."

The five-member water board is the only elected body in the community of 1,100.

To Green Valley's residents--who have had to curtail showers, allow gardens to go dry and cars unwashed--the news that plentiful water may be on the way is tantamount to a Christmas gift waiting to be unwrapped.

"That's terrific!" said Clem Moreau, a builder who, at the height of the drought two years ago, rigged up an elaborate network of hoses to pump "gray," or used, water from his washing machine to his flower garden.

"I'm surprised they've found water," said Dan Phillips, adding that he pays a monthly fee of $45 for access to the municipal supply. "If you exceed your limit, they really sock it to you."

In 1990, the drought became so harsh that Green Valley's water shortage was described by water board member Fred Cannon as the worst in the county.

At that time, Green Valley's water board reported that the district could meet only 44% of the community's needs. By contrast, the Metropolitan Water District announced at about the same time that it could supply as much as 92% of what was then needed by all of Southern California.

Amid reports that between 1987 and 1990, the water level in one of Green Valley's five wells had dropped from 25 feet to 95 feet below ground level--and fears that the community's supply could dry up entirely--the water board imposed a moratorium on new water service hookups.

That ruling, which brought construction to a halt in Green Valley, may be lifted if the new water supply is ample, Billesbach said, although he added that restrictions probably would be removed in phases, starting with the ban against outdoor watering.

That means Clem Moreau may be able to nurture his garden of rhododendrons and other flowers back to life. "It used to be," he said, "that people would walk down the street just to look at that garden."

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