Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy



Poplar, called Poplar-Cotton Center for census designation purposes, is an unincorporated community located in south central Tulare County. Approximately 2,500 people, the majority of which are low-income Latinos, reside in Poplar. The community is dominated by agriculture and industrial activities. Poplar has not had access to clean drinking water since at least summer 2014. The community relies on groundwater and has three wells, one of which is not in use due to nitrate contamination. Water levels in the other two wells are dropping as drought conditions worsen, which causes the pumping capacity of the pumps to decrease along with water pressure. 

Poplar was facing huge delays in progress towards water security, and CWC was able to get the California Department of Public Health involved so that projects could gain momentum. 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, but as groundwater levels continue to drop Poplar will need a new well altogether. Poplar Community Services District has applied for a grant from the state to do a feasibility study and if granted, construction could take several additional years.