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Ventura County eco group buys land to save water

OJAI, Calif. (AP) -- A Ventura County environmental group has bought 160 acres of forest land in the Ojai Valley to protect drinking water it helps supply from future development, a newspaper said Sunday.

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy with help from shareholders of the Senior Canyon Mutual Water Co. bought the land at an auction late last month for $75,000, the Ventura County Star (http://bit.ly/1kJpSM3) reported.

The watershed land has aquifers that collect and store fallen rainwater that is used for drinking water.

The conservancy's executive director Greg Gamble called the land “extremely important” for residents.

“It's been a critical watershed for us in the Ojai Valley,” Gamble said.

The land was up for auction after the court system took it back from private owners. Public access to it is already prohibited, but Gamble said there's no guarantee it will remain that way.

“It's conceivable a court decision would be reversed,” Gamble said.

The group used half its own money for the purchase, with the Senior Mutual Water shareholders supplying the other half.

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Information from: Ventura County Star, http://venturacountystar.com

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