It's worst and getting worst-er. Hundreds of domestic wells in California's drought-parched Central Valley farming region have run dry, according to AP, leaving many residents to rely on donated bottles of drinking water to get by. With government set to regulate deeper drilling, hope is plunging that a solution to California's drought will come anytime soon as groundwater levels plunge. The stories of struggle are simply stunning, especially given they are coming from America with Governor Brown signing an executive order that provides money to buy drinking water for residents statewide whose wells have dried up. "We need water like we need air," exclaimed one charity leader trying to raise money for water tanks, "Families every night dream about water," said another. And ripped from the famine-headlines of East Africa, "every day [Californians] thinking about how they're going to deal with water."
Hundreds of domestic wells in California's drought-parched Central Valley farming region have run dry, leaving many residents to rely on donated bottles of drinking water to get by.
Girl Scouts have set up collection points while local charities are searching for money to install tanks next to homes. Officials truck in water for families in greatest need and put a large tank in front of the local firehouse for residents to fill up with water for bathing and flushing toilets.
"When you have water running in your house, everything is OK," said East Porterville resident Yolanda Serrato. "Once you don't have water, oh my goodness."
With California locked in its third year of drought and groundwater levels dropping, residents and farmers have been forced to drill deeper and deeper to find water. Lawmakers in Sacramento passed legislation to regulate groundwater pumping, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this past week.
Three days later, Brown signed an executive order that provides money to buy drinking water for residents statewide whose wells have dried up, while also directing key state officials to work with counties and local agencies to find solutions for the shortages.
But the stories from the streets are shocking...
But many East Porterville residents, like Serrato, say all they want is to get a glass of water from the kitchen sink. Her well dried up nearly two months ago, she said, making life challenging for her husband and three children.
To bathe, they each have to fill a bucket from a 300-gallon tank in the front yard, carry it inside and pour water over their heads with a cup.
They've lived in their home for 21 years, she said. "It's not that easy to say, `Let's go someplace else.' "
In the meantime, charities have stepped up. Local schools, businesses and a religious group in Cincinnati, Ohio, donated water to the community.
Elva Beltran's Porterville Area Coordinating Council has provided 46 homes with 300-gallon tanks, which are filled each week. The group has pallets of donated bottled water and stacks of blue buckets waiting to be distributed.
Beltran said every day a new family comes in seeking help. "They're hurting," she said. "We need water like we need air."
A local bank donated $50,000 to Self-Help Enterprise, so the housing nonprofit can provide more homes with water tanks.
Community development program director Paul Boyer said people have been creative, using solar bags to heat water for bathing and putting tanks in trees to increase water pressure. Boyer said it will be more difficult when it turns cold this winter.
"Families every night dream about water," Boyer said. "Every day they're thinking about how they're going to deal with water."
The well belonging to Vickie Yorba, 94, dried up in February. She now relies on a donated water tank in front of her small home that she and her late husband bought 66 years ago. A neighbor with a deeper well ran a garden hose to Yorba's home.
She is proud of how sparingly she uses water, likening it to the little used during trips she and her husband took years ago to the mountains.
"It isn't hard," she said. "Not if you know how to camp."
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Of course, none of this matters as long as stocks are at record highs...