Nevada County’s SunSmile Farms settles lawsuit against NID |

Nevada County’s SunSmile Farms settles lawsuit against NID

George Loftus, owner of Sun Smile Farms, in this file photo stands in a section of his cherry orchards west of Grass Valley. The trees were dying due to lack of water after a leak in the pipeline leading to his farm prompted Nevada Irrigation District to shut off the water in the fall.
Photo for The Union by Annita Kasparian |

The Nevada Irrigation District and George Loftus, owner of SunSmile Farms, have resolved their dispute regarding a water service pipeline on the SunSmile Farms property, according to a news release.

“The parties worked cooperatively to come to a mutually agreeable solution and avoid litigation,” the release from NID states. “The agreement provides certainty regarding future responsibility and will eliminate future disagreement.”

The dispute began three years ago, when a breach occurred in a water pipeline running underneath Rough and Ready Highway, west of Grass Valley.

The Nevada County Public Works Department requested that the NID turn off the water, as the leak was compromising the integrity of the highway.

This largely affected Loftus and his 70-acre farm as he needed the water to prepare his crops for the following year.

The farm reportedly had typically used more than 55 million gallons of water annually.

“The farm’s perennial stock — the fruit trees and berries — was severely damaged,” Loftus wrote in an open letter to The Union.

After being unable to resolve the settlement within the requested amount of time, Loftus filed a suit against the NID for $800,000 in damages in July 2013.

Loftus received a great deal of support from the community during the dispute.

An online petition was created in support of the organic farmer and was said to have gathered 947 supporters according to a previous story in The Union.

Neither Loftus nor NID officials could be reached for comment.

According to a statement in the release, both parties have agreed to withhold further information regarding the settlement.

Maya Anderman is an intern with The Union. Contact her via email at

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