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The Central Valley News Collaborative is a project of The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.

Tiny Valley community goes nearly 24 hours without water after its only well fails

East Orosi's west water well.
Esther Quintanilla
East Orosi's west water well.

A rural town in Tulare County went about 24 hours without running water after the only working well in the area gave out amid triple-digit heat.

East Orosi is a rural community that’s home to about 624 residents, about 99% of whom are Latino. The town’s east water well shut off Tuesday afternoon, and didn’t power back on until 4 a.m. the next day. It went out again six hours later.

The water finally came back on Wednesday afternoon. But residents can’t drink it, because the water is polluted with nitrates and other contaminants.

Josefina Barrera, and other neighbors, are frustrated.

“It’s even worse in the heat,” Barrera says in Spanish. “My husband and son came home filthy after a long day of work and couldn’t shower.”

The small town used to have a well on the west side. According to residents, the west well gave out years ago and left the neighborhood reliant on a single well.

Right now, it's happening to East Orosi,” says Bryan Osorio of the Community Water Center, which advocates for clean water in the Central Valley. “But we're getting concerned about this happening in other small rural communities. It's not an isolated incident.”

This story is part of the Central Valley News Collaborative, which is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

Esther Quintanilla reports on communities across Central California, covering a variety of stories surrounding the rich cultures in the Valley, farmworker issues, healthcare, and much more. She previously reported through the Central Valley News Collaborative, a partnership between the Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.