Aromas project brings water reliability to neighborhoods

Government officials and other project supporters hold a groundbreaking.

Residents in 59 homes on the south end of Aromas can take in more than a breath of fresh air. Soon, they can take a gulp of fresh water, too.
Since the 1970s and 1980s when the Oak Ridge Drive and Via Del Sol Road projects were built out, residents have had quantity and quality issues with water from their private wells. Some residents, especially during dry summers, have simply run out of water and have had to truck it in. Others have experienced quality issues such as contamination from nitrates, arsenic and even E. coli.
On Dec. 5, officials with the Aromas Water District joined other government officials, including those from Monterey County agencies, in a groundbreaking ceremony for the $3 million project designed to move those 59 homes onto the community’s municipal line. It means those residents won’t have to worry so much about contaminants or whether they will have any water. It also pleased environmental health agencies and others wanting to see those troubled users moved away from unregulated private lines to prevent related health and safety problems.
Water district leaders expect the project, funded by the property owners that formed a property tax assessment district and will pay about $62,000 each, to be finished in the spring. It will include 2.4 miles of water line construction—and those 59 households—adding to the 900 existing connections in the municipal system. The new project also will add a 100,000-gallon storage facility and a booster pump to transport the water, said Wayne Norton, president of the Aromas Water District Board.
“To me, this is a really good example of neighbors helping neighbors, a community coming to help out members of the community,” Norton said.
Norton said before the project came about, he hadn’t really considered someone could buy a house and not have water, as was the case with some of the residents in those two neighborhoods in an area called Granite Ridge where water pools and has difficulty replenishing when depleted.
For some of the neighbors in those areas, where residents started reporting issues as far back as the 1990s, Norton said, it was a matter of dollars and cents.
“It’s hard to sell a house if you don’t have water,” he said.
Being on the municipal line will bring more security to those users. It will also add a certain comfort level for officials in Monterey County who have been uneasy about the health and safety of those private wells.
“Environmental health was very much an advocate for this project because they would very much like to have these private systems put into a municipal system,” said Vicki Morris, Aromas Water District general manager.

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