Along with the continued drought comes Tulare County Emergency’s Services reach out for those who have water issues. In Eastern Porterville there is a cluster of those, whose wells have gone dry.
On March 6, the agency along with CSET and United Way volunteers, and Tulare County firefighters spent the day going door to door, finding out the problems and working on the solutions for these residents.
“It is not that we feel this area is more important (than any other in the county),” said Andrew Lockman, emergency services manager. “It is that it is a microcosm of what is going on in the rest of the county.”
Contact was made at 55% of the 1,797 property parcels identified to reach, he said. Emergency Services identifies them as parcels, but there may be multiple homes on some of these.
From that, 200 surveys indicating the number of people living there, ages, annual total income and whether or not their well is functioning or gone dry, were filled out. This helps, not only with local services, but with requests for state and federal assistance, Lockman said.
“There are a lot of people we reached, who we had not gotten data on before,” he said.
Volunteers continued to visit residences in the area for the week following. And many residents also visited the drought resources booth at the Step Up event at Iglesia Emmanuel Church on March 13.
All of the local input helps to evaluate just how the bottled water program and portable showers are working out, Lockman said. There were 26 new applications filled out for the bottled water program.
The bottled water program is set up to deliver the equivalent of ½ gallon of water per person, per day. That meets the daily requirement for water intake, Lockman said.
“And we had to fight pretty profusely to get this,” he said.
“Our goal is to get (water) tanks out to everybody (who needs them) – that is our short term goal,” he said.
The tanks Lockman refers to are 1,500 – 2,000 gallon water tanks on loan to residents, which are refilled on a regular basis, dependent on the predetermined need of that residence.
“The long term goal is to get a waterline expansion to those out in the country (and outside city limits),” Lockman added.
For the property owners whose wells have gone dry, it is either just too expensive, or they do not want to invest in digging deeper or new wells on their property. Many of the residents in the area are living in rental property. It has taken some time for many of these people to develop trust with Emergency Services, and to accept their help and open up to them.
Lockman said he was very pleased with how the day and subsequent week went.
“I am very thankful to have gotten the volunteers that we did,” he said.
While the immediate water needs for most contacted are being met, there is still a demand for water. Twelve pallets of drinking water were delivered to the Iglesia Emmanuel Church last week, and within hours all of the water was gone.