On February 1, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWCB) announced that two public meetings will be held next month–on March 3 and 17, both from 6-8pm–at Palo Verde School, 9637 Avenue 196 in Tulare. The SWCB will provide information on proposed actions, answer questions and accept comments and testimony from the public.
At issue is the water supply of Matheny Tract, south of Tulare.
Water from old wells in Matheny Tract contained arsenic at levels unsafe for consumption. Pratt Mutual Water Company currently serves roughly 280 homes there.
In 2013, a water main was installed connecting Matheny Tract to Tulare’s municipal system. This was paid for by a $4.9 million Proposition 84 state grant. In 2014, the City of Tulare proposed selling the water wholesale to Pratt, which was to assume the responsibility of metering and billing.
But attorneys for Pratt and Matheny Tract residents oppose this, seeking instead a consolidation of the two systems.
Now the SWCB might order Tulare to wholesale to Pratt. A trial is set for April.
In 2015, the City of Tulare sued Pratt and others, including the county and the Matheny Tract Committee, citing legal and technical that need to be resolved before water can be put into the new main. While wholesaling may still be a bone of contention, occasional low water pressure remains problematic.
Although recently dropped from the suit in late January, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors agreed to support a motion of summary judgment. Such a motion could result in an order requiring the City of Tulare to fill the new main.
According to the terms of the original contract between Tulare and Pratt, the city agreed to consolidate the systems. The city has since changed its mind.
The residents of Matheny Tract, frustrated by what they perceive as delays caused by the City of Tulare, may soon see this impasse resolved. Water may flow through the new main, but the question is whether or not the accommodation will meet their approval.