Residents of El Porvenir in western Fresno County, threatened with water shutoff this month, will get financial relief from the state.
Fresno County supervisors held a hearing Tuesday to see if anyone opposed accepting a state grant that would make up a difference in the bills that residents of El Porvenir are now paying and would pay under a new, higher rate structure.
The funding will provide a buffer for the higher water bills residents pay to the county, which in turn pays Westlands Water District for providing water to the community.
In April, the primarily farmworker residents of the tiny, low-income town rejected a higher water rate over five years that amounted to an extra $5 a month the first year. That would raise the monthly rate from $110 to $115. The proposed rate then would drop to $112 for the following four years.
County supervisors on Tuesday asked residents to vote and accept the state money. No residents were at Tuesday’s meeting to oppose the plan.
If the residents didn’t agree the county should accept the funding, their water could have been shut off next week.
Financial relief from the state, about $28,000 total, offset water costs from Westlands by about $22 a month per household. Residents must promise to conserve by using 50 gallons per person per day so the county can keep the monthly bill at $110 a month. Residents will be charged more if they use more.
Already, residents in the 56-home El Porvenir and 75-home Cantua Creek districts get bottled drinking water because water from their taps contains disinfectant agents in excess of state guidelines. The water is drinkable, but if consumed for 70 years the risk for health impacts goes up, county officials say.
Last year, Cantua Creek residents rejected a $35 rate increase and also were threatened with a shutoff until the state issued emergency grants to pay the difference between the old and new rates. Cantua Creek residents had to limit consumption to 50 gallons per day or less. Their water rates are about $75 a month.