State could leave community without water after earthquake

VALLEY OF THE MOON (KGO) -- Valley of the Moon is a small community of 27,000 people tucked away not far from Sonoma. It's quiet normally, but the general manager of their water district has become quite the opposite.

"I will not be the guy who didn't say he did everything he could to get water to his people," said Alan Gardner, general manager of Valley of the Moon Water District.

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Thirty years after Loma Prieta, Gardner has discovered an earthquake danger in Valley of the Moon that could be devastating.

"No water to my residents after 24 hours. Period."

He blames the State of California for essentially abandoning this community when it closed the historic Sonoma Development Center and home in August. That closure also turned off a water treatment plant on the property. It has served as Valley of the Moon's contracted emergency back-up since 1982.

Gardner says the state locked up with minimal advance warning.

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"It put us in a position where we had no time to drill additional wells or money. They hung us out dry. They didn't even tell their employees that they were closing."

Now, Valley of the Moon is at the mercy of one large aquaduct pipe running beneath a bridge on Verano Avenue above Sonoma Creek. It supplies water from the Sonoma County Water Agency.

But there is a problem. The agency has described this section of pipe as being at risk in a severe earthquake.

"The Sonoma County Water Agency is investing heavily in our water transmission system and reliability. Regardless, every home should maintain a two-week supply of drinking water," said the Sonoma County Water Agency in a statement on Wednesday.

Gardner wants something better.

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"A failed point here or in any other place they have identified in their own plan is going to take more than fourteen days to fix," he responded. "I was told by one official that the Army will come in. And the Office of Emergency Services. Not for 27,000 people who won't be able to open a faucet. Won't be able to give their baby a bottle of water. It doesn't work that way."

Gardner says California's Office of General Services has been unresponsive.

"All they had to do is tell the truth about what they intended. That would have allowed us to accommodate it. Now they're on the hook for everybody who gets hurt."
In short, "It's on them."

The Office of General Services did not return calls from ABC7 News on Wednesday.
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