Community Water Center

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

September 2014 Newsletter

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September 2014

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This month has seen great victories and great devastation as the drought continues. On Tuesday, CWC celebrated our eighth anniversary on the same day that Governor Brown signed into law historic groundwater legislation. The groundwater laws herald a new era of inclusive, sustainable groundwater management, but families impacted by the drought need solutions now.



Mrs. Magana fills buckets of water she has collected from neighbors to bring into her home for domestic needs. The drought has turned simple activities like cooking, bathing, dishwashing, and toilet flushing into arduous tasks. 

Private wells are going dry as the drought wears on. Because of excessive groundwater pumping, over 10 homes in Monson, up to 300 homes in East Porterville, and dozens of other private residences now have dry wells. Life without tap water is an expensive affair – both in terms of time and money. Those reliant on private wells often receive little to no assistance from the federal, state or local agencies. Families are forced to take drastic measures to meet their basic water needs. Running hoses from a neighbors’ home, transporting buckets of water long distances from the nearest available water source, and purchasing hundreds of dollars’ worth of bottled water are now standard practices in these communities. The devastation caused by the drought has generated a great deal of media coverage that makes visible the often invisible stories of individuals and families suffering from the drought.

CWC is advocating for additional state resources to address this emergency. Drought-impacted communities need technical assistance, emergency funding for all water needs, and improved coordination between the various public and private organizations now providing drought relief. CWC is working collaboratively with state, county, and private organizations to develop both immediate and lasting solutions for drought-impacted communities


To support our work fighting for the Human Right to Water during this intense drought, CWC is kicking off our most ambitious fundraising campaign yet! We’re trying to raise $6,000 in one week to help CWC advocate for adequate drought relief in communities that lack water. Our campaign will culminate at the Visalia film premier of Thirsty For Justice on Sept. 25th. Please donate if you are able, and share our campaign with your friends (see here for social media tips). CWC will use funds from this campaign to support our work addressing immediate needs and organizing drought-impacted communities to develop more permanent, lasting sources of clean, affordable water. We can’t do this work without your help!

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Many families have had their wells go dry while neighboring fields and orchards continue to be watered or even flooded. Farmers can often drill deeper than low-income private well owners.

On Tuesday, September 16, Governor Brown signed into law a historic trio of bills to manage state groundwater supplies. CWC advocated for Assembly Bill 1739 (Dickinson), Senate Bill 1168 (Pavley), and Senate Bill 1319 (Pavley), because this legislation provides a basic framework for just, effective, and sustainable groundwater management. 

As the drought continues, the need for groundwater management has become more clear. Unmeasured and uncontrolled pumping has led to dry wells, drinking water pollution, and land subsidence. Small, rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley have borne the brunt of inaction on groundwater management. Without groundwater reform, it’s been a race to the bottom. Whoever drills the deepest well wins.

SB 1168, AB 1739, and SB 1319 work together to create the first comprehensive groundwater management regulation for the state of California. These new laws require the creation of regionally controlled groundwater management agencies (GSAs) which are mandated to achieve local groundwater basin sustainability within 25-35 years. The state is authorized to step in if the GSAs fail. The legislation calls for transparency and the inclusion of small and disadvantaged communities in the planning and management process. We’re excited to celebrate this major victory.The hard work to ensure effective and just management plans starts now.

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After years without safe drinking water and several months without any water at all, Seville resident Becky Quintana is celebrating the community's new well. 

Seville's water has been contaminated with nitrates and bacteria for years, and the community finally has clean water! The community has hundreds of residents and an elementary school, but as recently as a few weeks ago, it had no water coming out of the taps. Because of swift and coordinated action by the State Water Board, local district engineers, the county, and local community partners with CWC, Seville was able to quickly drill a new well down to 300 feet and bring it online in a matter of weeks. While the system still has significant leaks in the distribution system and needs to replace its pipes, the water quality coming out of the well and taps is meeting all drinking water standards. We still have more to do to make sure Seville has a reliable, long-term solution, including replacing the distribution system and developing a regional solution. But we hope this can be a model for how quickly drinking water problems can be addressed under the new state organizational framework.

Read the Tulare Lake Basin Study Report gray dividerEXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF THIRSTY FOR JUSTICE FILM

On Thursday, September 25, CWC will be hosting a film screening and panel discussion of the new documentary Thirsty for Justice: The Struggle for the Human Right to Water. The film shares powerful stories of the communities suffering from a lack of access to safe, clean, and affordable water in California. Thirsty for Justice chronicles the inspiring grassroots movement that made the Human Right to Water the law of the land in California. The film premiere will be held on September 25, 2014, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Connect 210 in Visalia. If you can’t join us in person, follow the event on social media using the hashtag #TFJ14. Space is limited, so RSVP today!

Special thanks to our sponsors:
ACT for Women and Girls; Byers Accountancy Corporation; Buckman-Mitchell Financial & Insurance Services, Inc.; Central California Legal Services; Clean Water Fund; Kidd Accounting Service; Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability; MVP Premier Insurance; Teamsters Joint Council 7; and Proteus, Inc.

RSVP for Thirsty For Justice Screening


Maria has been a leader in all our work and shaped what CWC is today. 

Former CWC Community Advocacy Director Maria Herrera will begin work next week at our partner organization Self-Help Enterprises. We know she will bring her passion, intelligence, and community values to Self-Help, where she will continue to be a force for community-driven water solutions. We look forward to continuing to partner with her and the rest of the Self-Help Enterprises team in the fight for water justice!gray divider

Top photo by Bear Guerra

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