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'It's Tearing The Community Apart': Controversial New Water Bills Coming For Grizzly Flats Properties Destroyed In Caldor Fire

GRIZZLY FLATS (CBS13) — There is new controversy in the aftermath of the Caldor Fire. The community services district that serves the burned-down area of Grizzly Flats is starting to charge for water service connections—even if property owners' homes are no longer standing.

The water is flowing in Roger and Mary Wells' home, which is still standing in Grizzly Flats. After the Caldor Fire, almost all of their neighbors' homes are destroyed.

"Oh, it's devastating," Roger Wells said.

Jared McVey and his family's home burned down.

"We've left because I've seen the devastation, and quite frankly I don't want to live through that every time I look out my window," McVey said.

Now, both families—one with a home, one without—will have to pay a monthly water service charge to the Grizzly Flats Community Services District.

"I found it kind of startling, I guess you could say," McVey said.

The Grizzly Flats Community Services District is out of money after the fire destroyed two-thirds of its customers' homes. With reserve funds nearly gone, it needs to make money fast. Collecting the service fee from everyone, even those who lost everything, is the only way the board believes it can survive.

Jodi Lauther is the district's general manager.

"I'm obviously very sympathetic to that you know, I lost my own home," Lauther said when asked if the new charges are adding insult to injury. "Three of four district employees lost homes. We understand that's hard to wrap your head around."

In the effort to build back Grizzly Flats, the progress is proving painful.

"Without a working water district, you might as well forget it," Wells said.

The district meets Thursday to determine if it will let some property owners disconnect their water lines to avoid a monthly charge.

"It's tearing the community apart," McVey said.

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