The water is running out for these Central Valley communities

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – As the drought worsens, leaders of some Central Valley communities warn they are running out of water. Many get deliveries through canals, but sinking land is limiting the amount of water they can carry to less than half.

“I currently serve 700 people who have been without running water for 11 days,” said Teviston Community Services’ Frank Galviz. “Our community well failed.”

Teviston is near Pixley – and one of several local communities, including Avenal, Orange Cove, and Lamont, invited by State Senator Melissa Hurtado to address water supply problems.

“We are working without state and local leaders to supply water through tanker trucks and bottled water,” said Galviz. “We have experienced water shortages due to the water table dropping over the past 14 years.”

Avenal’s city manager warns that, at their current rate of consumption, the city will be technically out of water by August.

“Based on our calculations we’re utilizing about 7-acre feet for our 10,000 residents – plus about 3,000 to 4,000 inmates at the Avenal State Prison.”

The Bureau of Reclamation slashed canal water allocations to Avenal from the 3,500-acre feet they’re contracted for each year.

“For us, 635-acre feet to August is not going to get us there. Typically we use 2,400, 2,500 acre-feet.”

Fresno Countu Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says for some, digging a well is simply not an option.

“They don’t have groundwater beneath them that can meet the standard needed for drinking water.”

Jacobsen says the drought is worsening the effects of a deteriorating water delivery system.

“Including the Friant-Kern Canal – in some places the pinch point has reduced capacity by 60 percent.”

Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559 aims to repair four major Valley canals.

“We’re not getting enough water delivered – and then on top of that and then the water that is getting delivered is being lost because of subsidence to these different canals,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). 

“It was vetoed last year. I came back and reintroduced it again. This time I included some other canals that need repairs across the Central Valley. Those canals provide water to 31 million Californians.”

“When it comes to cities and agriculture, we’re all in this together,” said Jacobsen. “We know that the health of the Central Valley is related to the health of the agricultural community, and for so many of these small cities, they rely upon these systems there. It’s extraordinarily important to find solutions for both these small cities and agriculture.

If approved by state lawmakers, the bill will once again go to the governor for approval.

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