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Most of us get our water from the faucet or out of a bottle, but in Nevada City, people line up every day to get a drink from the local watering hole.
Locals know it as Bitney Springs and it's located on a small turn-off on Bitney Springs Road, in Nevada City and just a few miles from Rough and Ready. The line to get water can be five or six cars long, depending on the time of day.
Lilly Engrasi is a regular and she uses the spring water to grow her plants.
“With this water, they will sprout in two days and with other water, it's 4,” Engrasi said.
The water is piped to three filling stations that flow continuously. Faucets are conveniently placed under a wooden hut.
People come for a variety of reasons and they don’t seem to mind that the water is raw and untreated. Nevada County Health Department posted a sign at the filling stations warning people to “DRINK AT YOUR OWN RISK."
Engrasi ignores the sign every time she fills up.
“If I get a little sick it’s not going to hurt me," Engrasi says. "But, I never have from this water and I have been drinking it off and on for 10 years.”
Bitney Springs is popular in this area, but few people know where the water comes from or why a filling station is on the side of the road.
Kennith Holbrook Is a fifth generation Nevada County resident. He knows exactly where the water comes from.
“The water comes from the Holbrook Mine," Holbrook said. "It's just up the hill from Bitney Springs.”
The mine Holbrook is talking about was his ancestor’s gold mine. It was over 1,000 feet deep.
The mine has since been filled in, but Holbrook says in the 1870's, his ancestors hit water while digging. To keep the mine from flooding, they installed a drainage pipe.
“Yes. It was drainage for the mine and ended up being called Bitney Springs,” says Holbrook.
The name Bitney Springs came from Fred and Alice Bitney, who built a store at the end of the pipe in the 1930's and shared the water. The local Lion's Club built the wooden structure and added more filling stations back in the 1970's.
The water is not tested by health inspectors, but it is free to the public. Remember to bring your own water container.
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