The wells around the county are failing, miserably. And the issue is a lot more complicated than originally imagined. During a meeting with Tulare County Chief of Administration, Jean Rousseau, citizen advocates, Amy Dickinson Campbell and Eric Campbell, attendees learned that a local farmer drilled a new well to the depth of 1,200 feet and struck salt water. That well had to be abandoned and another well dug, not quite as deep.
To add to the complications, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to bypass fair bidding practice laws to declare an emergency at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility and Mooney Grove Park due to well failure.
On June 16, the Board of Supervisors, again, voted unanimously to reaffirm the “emergency” and continue to bypass fair bidding laws. But the vote to bypass fair bidding practices became even murkier as the Tulare County Board of Supervisors tasked their employees to call around for bids. The actual wording can be found in the detailed agenda report dated June 16.
An excerpt stated:
“Since approval, staff has begun the process of contacting well drillers to obtain quotes for the work and will be contracting with an entity shortly. It is unknown how long the repairs will take or the exact project amount will be at this time as a contractor has not been selected.”
Item 16 of Tuesday, June 30, Board of Supervisor’s Meeting states the following:
Declare that the lack of water supply for East Porterville creates an emergency. Declare that constructing a new well will not permit a delay resulting from a competitive solicitation for bids. Declare that constructing a new well is necessary to respond to the emergency. Authorize staff to bypass the bidding requirements as authorized by California Contract Code Section 22050 and hire a contractor construct the well (4/5ths vote required).
Now the wells are failing at the Detention Facility and the concern is that the inmates will not be able to flush toilets or get proper levels of running water, according to Rousseau, and that is why the county leadership called the Detention Facility, along with Mooney Grove, an emergency.
Rousseau stated that, “in his eight years as Chief Administrative Officer, they have never classified anything as an emergency before.”
Rousseau stated that wells are failing all over the county, and it’s only going to get worse. He asked for patience while they work through this debacle.
Amy Dickinson Campbell is a Visalia resident and a member of The Real Mooney Grove Project.