California’s drought issues have reached new heights this summer, with no easy end in site. The drought has been ongoing for the past three years. This week, rural San Joaquin Valley homes received disheartening news — the tap water supply was completely dried up for their area.
A reported 182 out of 1,400 homes in East Porterville are either experiencing water issues or receive no water at all, according to the most recent reports. Many residential wells that normally rely on the Tule river for water have run dry after a very low river flow this year. The county must now deliver emergency rations of bottled water.
The Tulare County Office of Emergency Services delivered 12 gallons of water to every affected resident this past Friday, a service that will continue for the next three weeks. After that, low-income residents will need to sign up in order to keep receiving water, and other residents will be expected to find it for themselves. The county also supplies a 5,000 gallon non-potable water tank for flushing and bathing only.
The issue is compounded by the area’s low-income status. In East Porterville, residents are typically responsible for the cost of either fixing or drilling their wells if problems emerge with the existing well. Considering that the average cost of re-drilling a well is $15,000, though, that expectation is typically unfulfillable in an area that experiences some of the high rates of poverty in the state.
“I grew up here. I’ve never seen this many people out of water,” said Mike Ennis, Tular County District Five Supervisor, in an interview with the Fresno Bee. Currently, 100% of California is experiencing “severe” to “exceptional” drought, with 58% — including Tulare County — registering in the extreme drought category. Not only have incredibly low water reservoirs created issues for state residents, but it’s been a problem with agriculture as well — many crops remain unwatered as remaining water is diverted to residential areas. Farming typically accounts for about 75% of California’s total water usage. Of the 260 gallons of water the average household uses, about 30% typically goes towards landscaping — another pastime that has been curtailed this year in California.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, it is the “third-worst drought in 106 years” for the state.