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My Valley, My Story: Life With A Failing Well, "This Is Ridiculous"

Ezra Davd Romero
Joanne De Freitas, the woman on the far left, has struggled with well issues for two years.

FM89's series My Valley, My Story features first person accounts from the lives of people throughout the San Joaquin Valley. In this piece FM89’s Ezra David Romero visits the tiny town of Fairmead near Chowchilla in Madera County and meets an elderly couple grappling with water issues at their rural home. 

“My name is Joanne De Freitas. Almost two years ago our well started collapsing.”

“We had Anderson pump come out and they were able to go down a little bit further, but our pump is at 287 feet and we can’t go any further than that.”

“We’ve had limited water. A family orchard, half the trees are gone. Six of my 20 roses are gone. No front, no back lawn. We take showers twice a week. We flush our toilets like every three times or whatever. I wash clothes once a week because we can’t afford the water.”

"He's 80, I'm 76. We have no place to go. Our house is on a reverse mortgage so we can't take a second out."

“We just have to rely on what we have in the well.”

“We’ve been very conservative. When it started going bad on us we cut back totally on that time. We stopped watering everything, because we didn’t want to run out of water.”

“He’s 80, I’m 76. We have no place to go. Our house is on a reverse mortgage so we can’t take a second out. We can’t afford a new well, which would be $25,000 a year.”

“We’ve tried going through different programs. We make $25,500 a year between the two of us and we make too much money to get a grand for a new well. Now this is ridiculous.”

“You work all your life for nothing.”