On page 8 of the Nov. 1 Town Crier issue, an article written by Marshall Smith appeared entitled “FVWD denies leak reimbursement.”

I am Jim Brannan, referred to as James Brannan, or just Brannan in the article. I am the caretaker for the property under discussion, owned by Idyllwild faithfuls, David and Suzanne Horowitz for more than 35 years.

This water leak, which racked up a $13,695.80 bill, occurred on my watch. For this I take some responsibility. But, the writer of this article failed to mention a player who was really responsible for this accident. A small furry creature. Let’s call him Mr. Gopher.

During June, July, and August of 2012, I was responsible for the irrigation of the Horowitz property. This involved monitoring and servicing an irrigation system, and hand watering a number of shrubs and trees by garden hose. During heavy thunder showers in July, I did not walk the property for 14 days because the hand watering was not required.

During this period, Mr. Gopher decided to explore the inside of a valve box that controls an old irrigation system, buried beneath 4 inches of tough soil. This box contains a 1/4 turn shut-off valve that feeds a PVC pipe, also buried and unknown to me, with a broken end.

In his vigorous digging frenzy, Mr. Gopher pushed open the 1/4 turn valve, releasing the gush of water, which flowed out of this broken pipe, undetected until discovered by myself.

How can I be sure it was Mr. Gopher? Well, I can’t!

He couldn’t be reached for comment, and wasn’t able to attend the board meeting! But FVWD General Manager Steve Erler agrees with me on this.

How could anyone but a gopher or ground squirrel dig up a buried box, open the lid, dig down to the shut-off valve, open it, then pack perfect loose dirt in the box, replace the lid, and bury it with hard weedy dirt? It had to be the rascally Mr. Gopher!

Incidentally, the article failed to mention something else. Board member Jim Reese floated the reasonable suggestion that, given the unusual circumstances of this case, the board reduce the rate per 100 cubic feet to the FVWD “cost” level.

The board gave this idea the ca-bosh without even flinching! I know... I was there! Too bad Mr. Gopher wasn’t!

James Brannan

Editor’s note: The story to which this letter refers was about whether Fern Valley Water District would reduce or forgive the Horowitz’s bill.

The board chose not to do that.

Mr. Brannan attended the meeting and did mention his theory of the gopher’s role.

However, neither Mr. Erler’s official report to the FVWD board nor the minutes of the meeting refer to the gopher as the culprit or mention any other cause.

The issue was whether the bill would be reduced, not why the leak occurred.