Poplar, called Poplar - Cotton Center for census designation purposes, is an unincorporated community located in south central Tulare County. The community was established in the 1880s and is dominated by agriculture and industrial activities. Grapes are one of the primary crops grown in the area.
Time without safe drinking water: At least since summer 2014
The struggle: Poplar relies on groundwater and has three wells. One well is not in use because its water is contaminated with nitrates. Water levels in the other two wells are dropping as drought conditions worsen, causing the pumping capacity of their pumps to decrease along with their water pressure. Residents received notices last year prohibiting outdoor watering, and residents are reporting increased levels of nitrates in their water.
The people impacted: Approximately 2,500 people, the majority of which are low-income Latinos, reside in Poplar.
The solution: Poplar was one of eleven communities in Tulare County to secure emergency funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for drought assistance in late summer 2014. Poplar Community Services District received $462,000 to install two pumps that reach greater depths. As groundwater levels continue to drop, however, Poplar will need a new well altogether. Poplar Community Services District has applied for a grant from the state to do a feasibility study. If granted, construction could take several additional years.
The cost: $462,000 + approximately $20,000 for a new well