DAVENPORT, Santa Cruz County (KPIX 5) – A coastal community near Santa Cruz came close to running out of water, despite the wettest winter California has seen in years.
The town of Davenport, population 408, was less than a month away from running out of water.
“They’d have to bus water in, in order to meet their basic needs,” Santa Cruz County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty told KPIX 5.
Coonerty places blame on Cemex, what was one of the oldest businesses in the county. The supervisor plans to hold a news conference outside the company’s shuttered plant on Thursday.
“They always kept the water supply flowing to both their plant and this community. And now that they’ve left, they’ve decided to essentially abandon the community,” Coonerty said.
The pipes that supply the town’s water are on Cemex property. This year’s storms damaged them, forcing the county to switch to a backup water source.
“But that creek runs dry in the summertime,” Coonerty explained, “and that’s why it’s imperative that we get these pipes fixed.”
The supervisor said they asked Cemex for the past six months to repair the pipes, but that didn’t happen.
Then, the situation went from worse, to dire.
“And so finally when it seems the town is about to run out of water, the county had to step in,” Coonerty said.
“I don’t want to have to be worried about water,” said Stephanie Ragust, a Davenport business owner.
The county is now making emergency repairs on the pipes, but that means business owners and homeowners will have to foot the $220,000 bill.
“We have one of the highest water rates in the country,” Ragust said.
Coonerty said the county is going to do all it can to make Cemex finally take action.
“Just because they’ve chosen to close down the plant doesn’t mean that their responsibility ends. I hope they do the right thing,” he said.
Crews continue to make repairs on those pipes.
Cemex did not have a response to KPIX 5’s request for comment as of Wednesday night.