Residents of Woodville are being told to boil their tap water after a well went dry, potentially creating conditions for bacteria to get into the water supply.
Woodville is a town of about 1,700 people in Tulare County.
The state Division of Drinking Water issued the boil-water order Friday after water pressure in a well went to zero Thursday night, said Tricia Wathen, the Visalia District engineer for the division.
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When water pressure gets too low, it makes it possible for bacteria to enter the system through leaks in pipes, so a boil-water order must be issued, she said.
One minute of rolling boil is advised to kill any bacteria. Bottled water could also be used instead.
Water samples have tested clean, but the order will to remain in effect for two or three weeks until a problem well is repaired, said Ralph Gutierrez, manager and operator of Woodville Public Utilities District.
Last week, the shaft of the community’s main well collapsed in at least two places, Gutierrez said. He blamed land subsidence likely caused by groundwater overdraft in the drought.
A backup well was put into use, but demand was too great and the well went dry for awhile.
“I had to turn off the well for 20 minutes so it could recharge,” he said.
The public utilities district is asking residents to reduce consumption until the main well is fixed, which could take two or three weeks.
It will cost an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 to repair the broken shaft.