TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The small town of Tooleville had no running water during an extreme heat wave over the weekend in the Central Valley. 

Tooleville, which is located near Exeter in Tulare County, had no running water all day Saturday.

“The tap water in Tooleville is contaminated it’s not drinkable but that meant that during a heatwave, there was no water for showering, for washing fruits and vegetables, for other domestic purposes,” said Michael Claiborne. 

Claiborne is with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability and said although they were able to provide running water for the residents by Sunday morning, they have not reached an agreement with the City of Exeter to connect to their water system, so they fear the problem will happen again. 

Consolidation and repairs to Exeter’s existing system have a $15 million price tag. The state has $130 million a year for these projects.

“I’m optimistic that we’re getting to a place where the city will agree to do things that we’re looking for one is an emergency inter-connection to make sure that in the short-term residents in Tooleville have at least some access to some water in their homes,” he said. “The long-term solution is full consolidation of both water systems.”

Problems like the ones facing Tooleville are common in small communities throughout the state of California and Claiborne had this message for local leaders. 

“Unfortunately, it’s way too common,” he said. This is absolutely a severe example [Tooleville] but there are many communities in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley and throughout the state that are struggling with this same problem, my message to leaders is start to rethink how things were done in the past where cities and communities that had access to water stayed on their own and tried to hoard that resource because they had access to something that’s valuable and important.”