Water restored to Parkwood, but it needs long-term solution (video)

The Fresno BeeJuly 9, 2014 

The well that supplies water to Parkwood, a small community outside Madera, failed Monday, forcing residents to use bottled water for the past three days.

Although water was restored Tuesday night, a "boil water notice" is in effect until further notice.

Madera Fire Department and county officials are fairly certain that no bacteria contaminant is in the water system, but they are required by the state to test the water before giving residents the all-clear. The test results should be done by today at noon.

This is the third time the well failed over three months; the first two failures were in May. The Madera County Board of Supervisors voted to tap water from the city of Madera on June 16 as a temporary, 10-month fix to the problem.

Johannes Hoevertsz, the county public works director, said that construction to link Parkwood temporarily to city water lines should start soon.

"Contracts have been set in place and a contractor is set to start building Friday," he said. "Parkwood will still remain on stage four conservation level. We should be done in five days if all goes to plan."

Hoevertsz said that Parkwood needs to have more than one operational well and possibly build a storage tank so it's not dependent on a single well. He said he has been working with the city and state to achieve this $2 million to $3 million, permanent water-supply solution for the community.

Charles and Anne Marie Williams, who live near Parkwood Park, have been battling water-supply problems in their community since spring of 2013.

"Water alerts started last spring, but problems have been there for 10 years. We were never aware of the problem until 2013," said Anne Marie Williams.

The well failure could not have come at a worse time, with residents already facing strict water restrictions. A prompt decision by the county just before Memorial Day shifted Parkwood from a stage three conservation level to stage four, which prohibits all outdoor water use.

"We cannot water outside at all. If we do, we are fined $75 the first time, $125 the second time and it just keeps increasing from there," said Charles Williams. "We have put thousands of dollars into our yard and I have to sit here and watch it go down."

Water was shut off for residents in Parkwood for about seven hours Tuesday so the well could be dug 60 feet deeper. Water is being distributed by Home Depot and Madera County volunteers at a nearby park.

A tanker truck carrying 2,300 gallons of water was also parked outside the Madera Home Depot with free, potable water for Parkwood residents to use for bathing, washing clothes or drinking. Robert Joanou, district manager for Home Depot, said volunteers had distributed 5,200 cases of water, or more than 100,000 bottles, by Wednesday afternoon.

"We'll be here until this is over," Joanou said as another pallet of water arrived at the park.

For Charles Williams, however, a 24-pack of water would not suffice.

"I have health issues and I get dehydrated easily," he said. "That little bit of water wouldn't even last me a whole day with all of the medication that I have to take."

Parkwood is one of 20 special districts in Madera County and relies on a 40-year-old well and pump that is wearing out. Hoevertsz acknowledged that the pumps need to be replaced and new wells dug. But during a drought, well digging is expensive and will have to wait until construction starts on a secondary well system, he said.

Charles Williams said he is hopeful that Parkwood's water-supply woes will end soon, but knows that it will be some time before the county takes action.

"This is just the beginning of being put on restrictions; having water, not having water, etc. We are just trying to work through it and do the best we can like everyone else," he said.

The reporters can be reached at (559) 441-6330, htraceynoren@fresnobee.com or kelwood@fresnobee.com.

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