$35 million allocated to connect East Porterville residents to clean, reliable drinking water

By on April 14, 2017
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The five-plus year drought in California is over for the vast majority of the state’s residents but the effects of lack of clean, reliable water continues for residents of East Porterville in Tulare County. But hope is in sight thanks to the State Water Resources Control Board and Proposition 1 grants and a loan forgiveness plan of up to $35 million.

More than 1,400 East Porterville properties saw their wells run dry or become contaminated during the drought. Residents of the Central Valley community, an unincorporated area in Tulare County, have been forced to rely on deliveries of bottled water for drinking and cooking and non-potable water for other household purposes via large temporary tanks installed on their properties.

But, in an unprecedented move, state and local agencies will be connecting approximately 1,100 eligible properties with dry or contaminated private wells to the adjacent city of Porterville’s public water system, as a long-term solution to the drought-caused water crisis in East Porterville.

The approval of up to $35 million by the Water Board will be used to upgrade Porterville’s current water system to meet the demand of additional customers from East Porterville. Funds will also be used to help construct a new, expanded water distribution system.  All residents’ connections to Porterville’s water system will be entirely borne by the state.

In addition to the $35 million for the resolution of East Porterville’s water crisis, the State Water Board has also approved $252,000 to supply bottled water to the residents of Seville, a small, severely disadvantaged community, also in Tulare County. The approximate 400 residents are also facing water supply and water quality issues. The State Water Board also approved $2 million for Tulare County’s Countywide Bottled Water Program for specific qualified, disadvantaged households that have a dry well or well contamination.

The project is a collaborative effort of three state agencies – the State Water Board, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California Office of Emergency Services – along with Tulare County and the city of Porterville.

Tulare County, which has sustained some of the worst impacts of California’s five-year drought, will be receiving a total of $37,252,000 for emergency and long-term solutions to supply safe drinking water to residents of Tulare County.  The approval of the funds was the result of three separate actions by the State Water Board late last week all aimed at providing financial assistance to small and disadvantaged communities in Tulare County.

As of March 31, 330 homes in East Porterville had been connected to Porterville’s water system. The connections for the remainder of the properties are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.