First Phase of Emergency Project Brings Water to Drought-Stricken East Porterville
The first of several East Porterville neighborhoods that have been without a safe water supply for up to three years was connected to the Porterville city water supply Aug. 19, through a multi-phase project designed to provide a reliable water supply to an area called “ground zero” of the state’s severe drought.
The East Porterville Water Supply Project is a joint effort of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (EOS), the City of Porterville, and Tulare County.
As the drought worsened across California, the Tulare County community of East Porterville became the poster child for severe impacts. Many residents found that their wells had either dried up or contained a high concentration of nitrates due to the dropping water table. Since 2014, hundreds of homes without safe water have subsisted on water deliveries, estimated by DWR to cost the state $650,000 per month. Connecting these homes to the Porterville city water system will return their home taps to normal operation and end the unsustainable deliveries.
Phases 1A through 1E of the project will provide connections for approximately 500 homes. Phase 2, to take place in 2017, will connect up to another 1,300 homes.
To qualify for the city water supply, residents must agree to have their property eventually annexed by the City of Porterville. They will not be charged the cost of connection, but will pay monthly water bills going forward. Property owners who need help completing the paperwork can get assistance from several non-profit organizations, including Community Services Employment Training, the Community Water Center, Self-Help Enterprises and Porterville Area Coordinating Council.