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State To Hook East Porterville Up To Neighboring Porterville's Water System

Ezra Romero/KVPR
Donna Johnson and her 19-year-old recruit deliver water daily to homes around East Porterville and direct people to the front of town's Fire Station for non-potable water.

Residents in a valley community with one of the highest concentrations of dry wells will soon be getting some relief.  For years, residents in East Porterville have watched their wells dry up in the drought forcing them to rely on water delivery and tanks.

Now, the state of California is offering to pay to hook up the tiny unincorporated community to the much larger city of Porterville.

Eric Lamoureux with the Office of Emergency Services says the state will make an initial $10 million dollar investment to begin hooking up the roughly 1,800 homes in East Porterville.

“The emergency tank program was just that, an emergency solution. The permanent connection to the City of Porterville water system is the long term solution for residents who are out of water throughout East Porterville,” Lamoureux says.

Once a home is hooked up, emergency water deliveries will cease. The state plans to hook up as many as 500 homes by the end of the summer.

Residents will not have to pay for the cost of hooking their homes up to the water system if they sign an agreement with the state. That money will be sent to local non-profits who will pay for the work. The connection does not cover businesses. Landlords will be responsible for deciding whether or not to hook up their rental properties.

The state is allowed to force the consolidation of services under a law passed last year.

Lamoureux says this effort is the largest ever use of the law.

“There have been a considerable number of similar projects of a much smaller magnitude that have occurred throughout Tulare County. There are some similar connection projects underway in Fresno County. But nothing on this scale and magnitude,” Lamoureux says.

There will be a community meeting about hooking up to the Porterville water system Thursday night at Granite Hills High School starting at 6. 

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.