The frantic phone calls to the Community Water Center began in the summer of 2014. In the 7,000-strong unincorporated community of East Porterville, nestled against California's Sierra Nevada mountains, homeowners' wells were failing amid a historic drought. Folks were hauling water from their workplaces or from agricultural wells. Parents were sending their kids to shower at the local high school. Residents with still-functional wells were snaking hoses over fences to nourish their neighbors.
"People were in dire straights. They were desperate," says Ryan Jensen of the Central Valley's Community Water Center. "Elderly people or people battling chronic illnesses that need water to be able to deal with their health issues had no access to it. There was just absolute desperation."
Wells - Properties - Nonprofit - Tanks - Officials
In total, the wells at 300 properties had failed. So a local nonprofit distributed 275-gallon tanks and officials trucked in water. That didn't cut it.
On account of being unincorporated, East Porterville only had a handful of buildings connected to the water system in Porterville proper. So beginning in August 2016, workers hurried to connect 750 homes, the last of which tapped into Porterville this past February.
East - Porterville - Situation - Outlier - Anything
East Porterville's situation is extreme, but it is not an outlier. If anything, it is a harbinger. "It was only an outlier in the concentration and sheer number of people who lived in a very small area that were affected by this," Jensen says. "There's approximately 300 communities in the state of California and more than a million residents who don't have reliable access to safe drinking water, and that's not even counting people who are on domestic wells."
California is in trouble. Computer models show that with climate change will come harsher droughts and less frequent, yet more powerful storms. The state is not ready for this new reality, but one city south of Porterville could teach...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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