East Porterville water wells are drying up

Jose Castro – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Bakersfield, CA, United States East Porterville – One of the pernicious effects of drought is the lack of ample potable water for the residents in the area. Now, this has become commonplace in California, which is now in the midst of a multi year drought. Amongst the hardest hit is the town of East Porterville, which is located north of Bakersfield in Tulare County.

In a report made by the Porterville Recorded, the town paper, about 182 of its 1,400 homes have no water at all or is suffering from lack of water supply. This is a major issue as most of the homes in the town have their own individual wells for drinking water and other uses. The percentage of homes without water is alarming, as this indicates the water supply is running out.

To augment its supply, there has been a 5,000 gallon water tank put in place to alleviate the water shortage. For those residents who still have supply, they are being urged to conserve water usage as there are fears the aquifiers of the town would dry up.

In another move, Tulare County employees and other volunteers had delivered 15,500 gallons of potable water to the residents of the drought stricken town. Each individual resident was allotted 12 gallons of water. According to Tulare County Office of Emergency Services Manager Andrew Lockman, the handing out of the water supplies was done at the Tulare County firehouse. They targeted the 182 homes that did not have any water coming from their wells.

Lockman said of the current water shortage, “They’ve never had outages like this. With those wells, it’s always been sufficient just because the water table has always been so high in this area. Right now we’re trying to provide immediate relief. This is conceived as an emergency plan right now.”

Many water officials believe that the problem may be due to the shallow depth of some of the wells in the area. These wells are replenished by the Tule River groundwater. Because of the drought, the river does not provide the sufficient levels of water to properly replenish the wells, be it shallow or deep ones.

This isn’t only the problem created by the drought. Many of the residents have become tight-lipped about their water situation, fearing that social workers may take their children because of the situation. Others fear that they may be evicted by their landlords for the lack of water.

To allay these fears, Lockman stressed, “We want to make it abundantly clear we are not going to make this harder for anyone. These lists aren’t going anywhere. (Child Welfare Services) isn’t getting a list. They (CWS) made it abundantly clear they are not going to remove children because of no water. We just want to help the people.”

Since the norm in East Porterville is having a well, homeowners are liable for the cost of fixing and drilling a new hole should water problems surface. This has become a problem for what has been termed as “Welfare Capital”, Tulare County where East Porterville is located. Many of the resident are retirees living off their pensions. They won’t be able to afford to drill a new well which can cost up to USD15,000.

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