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In Farmersville, Vilsack Announces Aid For Residents With Failed Wells


California homeowners who have seen their wells fail during the drought are getting some assistance from the federal government. FM89's Joe Moore reports on today's  announcement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


The well at Carlen Overby's rural Tulare County home went dry on July 4th, when she was taking a shower.

Overby: "You turn it on and the water start to trickle and there's nothing. It starts spitting air because your pump is still working, it's still trying to pull water up but there's nothing there, it's just air."

Overby lives in the unincorporated Cameron Creek Colony where about 10 percent of residents have had their household wells dry up.

The issue brought U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the nearby of city Farmersville on Friday to announce $9.7 million in emergency federal aid. Vilsack says the funding will help residents in 25 rural California communities connect to municipal water services.

Vilsack: "I can't manufacture water, but I can help you when you have too little of it."

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio
Valley Public Radio
Carlen Overby's well went dry on July 4th, at her home near Farmersville in Tulare County.

Farmersville will receive $500,000 from the USDA, or about half of the cost of extending the city's water mains to Cameron Creek. The city hopes the rest of the money will come from state grants. Even then residents like Overby will still have to pay to connect their homes to the service.

Vilsack says residents face tough choices when they run out of water.

Vilsack: Some people might say, 'if you don't have water, pick up and go someplace where there is water.' Well the problem is how do you sell your house? Who's going to buy your house if there's no water?"

Today's announcement is in addition to the $40 million in drought relief that Vilsack and President Obama announced earlier this year. 

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
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