More than half a dozen East Porterville residents drove to Sacramento last month to testify before the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. These residents told stories about life without water -- of being unable to wash clothes, take showers, or even flush the toilet without first walking outside to fill a bucket with water from a temporary water tank. They also shared stories that left the room inspired by their determination and leadership in working toward a lasting drinking water solution for their community.
East Porterville is a low-income, unincorporated community that is home to an estimated 6,500 people. Most residents rely on private wells, many of which started going dry last summer. An estimated 600 wells have failed, and some residents have not had running water in their homes for over eight months. Nonprofits, volunteers, and officials from the County, State, and City of Porterville have been working hard to address the emergency, but East Porterville residents still lack a permanent, safe, and affordable water solution.
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted this month to submit a grant application for federal and state money to drill a new well project. The $1.6 million well would operate in the city of Porterville, which would use the water to supply neighboring East Porterville with hauled water. Three-quarters of the funding for the new well come from California Disaster Assistance Act grant money, which was made available thanks to strong advocacy by CWC, AGUA, and our local and state partners.
Last week’s vote is a step in the right direction for East Porterville, but the community needs a permanent solution. And as AGUA member Erasto Teran testified at the hearing, “It’s East Porterville this month, but it could be another city next month. We need to implement the human right to water. It’s a human right, and it’s the law.”
Later in the hearing, CWC and other stakeholders presented the recommendations of the Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study report to the Committee. CWC created a fact sheet that lists the recommendations for reducing barriers and increasing access to funding to achieve sustainable community water solutions, which can be found here.
Watch the full hearing on CalChannel here.