By Mark Grossi
It looks like the Fourth of July won't be dry at the Almanza home near Porterville in rural Tulare County.
Al Almanza, who suffers crippling arthritis and heart problems, had already gone through his 80th birthday without running water in his home. The well went dry in early April -- a casualty of this intense drought year.
Wife Carmen, who will be 80 in late July, had been hauling buckets of water to flush the toilet and wash dishes. They were using bottled water to drink and brush their teeth.
But Arthur and Orum Well Drilling Inc. of Fresno came to the rescue, discounting its prices to make the well work again. A donor has pledged to pick up the bill. The well is expected to be finished this week.
The drilling company learned of the Almanza's problem from the media. My story was published in early May, and broadcast media later covered it.
Carmen says her dream has come true. The couple will not have to move out and give up on their country home of 33 years.
"They're drilling the well down to 160 feet," Carmen said. "Our well was 75 feet deep before."
The drilling company has a long line of customers who need wells, so officials say they are not interested in steering their business to rescue efforts.
And there are many private well owners who are having the same problem as the Almanzas. I have heard from a few people. The Community Water Center in Visalia has heard from many more.
People are falling through the cracks in this drought. They are usually people who live in rural areas and own private wells, meaning they are financially responsible to fix them when they stop working.
Federal and state agencies offer little if any help for these people, yet millions of dollars are available through bonds and federal grants to help people in organized utility districts and small cities.
Read the Fresno Bee's original story profiling the Almanzas HERE.