Through the week of November 3, the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services (OES) reported the failure of 784 private wells, most located in and around east Porterville. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation by OES Manager Andrew Lockman during their regular meeting on October 21.
The presentation was focused on steps the county has taken to provide assistance to drought-affected areas. A Drought Task Force was established in March to contend with such things as the delivery of bottled water to homes whose wells have run dry.
“There has been a substantial of staff time from all levels bringing together Health and Human Services, Resource Management, county administration, city governments, non-profits, and state agencies that help with drinking water,” Lockman said.
In the most hard hit areas of the county there remains a need for shower and laundry facilities. According to Lockman, some people have been forced to wash their clothes in buckets, while sponge-bathing is becoming more common. “The first thing we’ve heard a lot about is shower facilities,” he said. “This really comes up from the residents of east Porterville.”
But short-term solutions tend to be expensive, and many would like to see a more long-term orientation, such as the expansions of present water systems and the creation of new ones.
“We are trying to improve the resiliency here,” Lockman said. “Currently these things are happening outside of the OES sphere, but they are what we need to create long-term solutions.”
The OES releases a new drought status with information about private well failures, well permit numbers, rental assistance numbers, the Bottled Water Drinking Program, food relief and drought-impacted workers. Each Tuesday the OES reports on the number of wells going dry countywide, and the tally, locating each well on a map, can be viewed at http://goo.gl/Kf26y0. The bottled drinking water application can be accessed at http://goo.gl/KQSGMU.
Residents who need assistance can call 2-1-1 to find local resources and information about housing, food, health, mental health, transit, household goods, employment and family assistance.