Thanks to tireless advocacy by community leaders, yesterday the Department of Water Resources awarded Tulare County a $3.4 million grant for the express purpose of connecting nearby West Goshen homes to a permanent and sustainable water source.
West Goshen is a small, unincorporated community just west of Visalia in Tulare County. While a portion of the community gets safe drinking water from California Water Service — which also serves the city of Visalia — more than 50 households still rely on private wells. Families accessing water from their own wells face dual crises of water contamination and dropping groundwater levels leaving wells on the brink of failure.
Jesus Benitez, a long-time resident of West Goshen, knows this reality well. His most recent well testing results showed unsafe levels of uranium, with nitrate levels just below the legal limit. But that’s only an issue when he has running water. When the deeper ag well just across the street is running, Jesus’ well struggles to pump water into the home at a pressure high enough to use. To find a permanent water solution for himself and his neighbors, he helped form the community based group West Goshen Water for Life which has been meeting regularly to develop a plan for connecting their private wells to the nearby CalWater system which serves the City of Visalia.
The grant awarded now puts Jesus and his community on a faster path towards safe and accessible water for all.