Earth Log

May 27, 2014

Good water news for Almanza household in Tulare County

Earth Log

Mark Grossi's dispatches from the Valley battle with air quality and water use

The taps may be running again soon at the Almanza house in rural Tulare County.

You may recall the couple — Al, 80, and Carmen, 79 — lost their private well near Porterville in early April. The water table dropped, and their well went dry.

Maria Herrera of the advocacy group Community Water Center in Visalia called this week to say a private well-drilling company has stepped forward to help. She also said others have stepped up to provide bottled drinking water.

I haven’t been able to reach the Almanzas yet this week, but I will check back to get details.

Al suffers crippling arthritis and heart problems. Carmen, who will be 80 in July, has been hauling buckets of water into the house from a huge pot in the front yard. She uses the water to flush the toilet and wash dishes. 

I wrote a story early this month explaining how they have fallen through the cracks in the public assistance safety net during this intense dry season.

Their small income covers house payments, but it’s too low to qualify for a federal loan and frustratingly too high for a grant.

The Almanzas shower at a granddaughter’s house. They eat on paper plates as much as possible to cut down on dish washing.

They don’t want to leave their home of 33 years where they raised seven children. Al worked as a gardener and landscaper until his health failed in his early 70s.

The key in this story is the connection to private well owners in rural areas. They are on their own when it comes to well repair and maintenance. As I understand it, more than a dozen other property owners around Tulare county have dry wells at this point.

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About Mark Grossi


Mark Grossi has the pulse of the San Joaquin Valley ecosystem, writing since 1993 about subjects such as the region's notorious air quality, the restoration of the San Joaquin River and unhealthy drinking water in rural towns. Twitter: @markgrossi Email Mark at or call him at 559-441-6316.

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