In the late summer of 2014, the rural community of Seville had some of its water needs addressed. Tulare County, working as an interim water agency for the area, was able to secure funding for the drilling of a new well for the community of approximately 500 residents. The 300-foot well boosted the water pressure, supplying much needed water to everyone in the area.
But the water was still not potable, with leaks springing up everywhere in the nearly 100-year-old pipe system due to the new, higher pressure. Since then, the continued use of Band-Aid piping has been a temporary solution.
New Funds for Pipeline
Now, the county has secured a $5 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board for a complete overhaul of piping in the community. California remains under a drought emergency. With that the state board expedited the grant, with the contingency that the county must implement the work as soon as possible.
For some time, it has not been known just who the rightful owner of the water system has been – it was long ago abandoned with no one claiming it. As such, the water board asked the county to step in.
“This actually works out to the advantage of the people there,” Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley said, in a 2014 interview.
Privately-owned water systems normally would not qualify for grant funds, he explained. But, with the county working as a trustee for the Seville system, funds were made available, and many allocations made.
“The whole goal is to provide reliable drinking water as soon as possible,” said Eric Coyne, spokesman for the Tulare County Resource Management Agency.
A few weeks ago, Worthley and Coyne took a drive to Sacramento to give a 15-minute presentation to the water control board. They returned with the promise of the $5 million grant.
“Everybody needs water,” Coyne said, “so, it wasn’t so easy to ask.”
But water issues have been plaguing the community long before the drought, Coyne said. For more than 20 years, Worthley has been working toward a solution to the problem, as a county supervisor and a former school board member in the area.
Drought a Silver Lining?
“It turns out the drought was a silver lining and beneficial for them,” Worthley said of Seville residents. “It’s allowing us to put in a new system.”
The project is out for bid, in which the entire pipeline will be replaced from the well to each residence or property in the area, currently on the system. It Is unclear at this point just how each individual home will be hooked up, or how that will be paid for. Meters need to go in. But it will be taken care of, Worthley said.
“We’ll find a way,” he said. “We’re talking about $100,000.”
If finances allow, a new storage tank will also be built alongside the well, Coyne said, which should adjust any pressure problems, and will also allow for water during a power outage. This, hopefully, will be paid for with the current grant funding.
The goal is to eventually hook-up the Seville system to the Yettem water system. Thus, one could compensate for the other, if problems should arise. Yettem currently has its own community services district which includes water, which could then also encompass the Seville area. Additional funding will be needed for this connection.
Monson Water Needs Being Address, As Well
Recent grants have also come in for the area of Monson, which until now has been reliant on shallow independent property wells. Many of those wells have run dry during the drought, with neighbors becoming dependent upon temporary storage tanks, as well as other neighbors allowing them to hook up to their wells.
Through these shallow wells, for those that still work, they have had the highest nitrate level in the county, Worthley said. So, when there is, or was, water, it wasn’t consumable.
Grants totaling $2.1 million from state and federal sources have been made to provide the much-needed, universal system for Monson residents. A small parcel is being purchased by the county as a location for the well with a 50,000-gallon storage tank, Coyne said. The county plans to award the construction bid within a few weeks and construction of that system should begin in March, he said.
Like the future Seville-Yettem connection, the county is hoping to establish a connection between Monson and neighboring Sultana. Like Yettem, Sultana has a community services district and could act as administrator to Monson. And like Seville-Yettem, Monson and Sultana could rely upon each other in a time of need. Again, further funding will need to be found for this.
Both Seville and Monson have been on bottled water programs for years. That soon may not be needed.
Despite the higher than average rainfall, so far this year, the state remains in drought status. There are continuing water problems around the county, but fixes are being made to provide good, safe water sourcing for many of the Tulare County residents, who have been in such severe need the past few years.