The area of Seville received a new well in the middle of the drought, the summer of 2014. In February of this year, the county secured funds to replace the aging pipe system. Today, the 500 residents of the area still do not have enough water pressure to shower, do laundry, or even flush a toilet. The water is still unsuitable to drink.
The new 300-foot well boosted the water pressure, temporarily supplying much needed water to everyone in the area – but the force of the new well and pump also put pressure through the old pipes, pressure they just couldn’t handle. Leaks have been springing up on a weekly basis ever since, said Eric Coyne, spokesman for the Tulare County Resource Management Agency.
Water issues are nothing new to the area. They have been plaguing the community long before the drought, Coyne said. For more than 20 years, Supervisor Steve Worthley has been working toward a solution to the problem, as a county supervisor and a former school board member in the area.
With the $5 million grant awarded from the California State Water Resources Control Board, Tulare County is moving forward with the water system in the area in two phases, Coyne said. But, these things take time – time that is taking its toll on the neighborhood.
The first phase and Number 1 priority is to replace the water lines throughout Seville. Phase 2 will connect the water systems between Seville and Yettem. 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 take over the Seville area, which is temporarily being managed by the county. Additional funding will be needed for this part of the project.
The county is currently finishing environmental reports and design for phase one – construction should begin prior to the end of the year.
But, for now, “there’s a tremendous amount of leakage [from the pipes] that may be a century old,” Coyne said.
About two weeks ago, a connection leading to one residence burst – the entire system had to be shut down to cut it off. There are no individual shutoff valves – only one for the total system. The county continues to put band-aides on the leaks, until the new system can be built, he added.
Meanwhile, “people are using an inordinate amount of water for the area,” Coyne said. And, officials don’t know where it’s going.
There is a no outside watering ordinance in place. Most of the area is brown. People caught watering a lawn area, first receive a warning – secondly, receive a fine.
There is still a bottled water program in place, now for more than two years. Porta potties can be found at Stone Corral Elementary School, where the toilets often will not flush.
With an abundance of rainfall and snow pack last season, the state has lifted its drought status. But water conservation is still very much an issue. Most cities and counties in the South Valley continue with outside watering ordinances and ask residents and business owners to conserve where ever possible.