Summer of 2021, another dry-well-a-palooza | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-10-15 16:15:00 –

Towards the end of this summer, Self-Help Enterprises rang the phone almost non-stop, and all the residents of the valley were calling about the same issue. Their well was dry.

Employees made hundreds of calls a month from well-depleted people, Marliez Diaz wrote in an email. Diaz is the Water Sustainability Manager for Self-Help, a Visalia-based community organization working on housing and water issues in the San Joaquin Valley.

Calls in October have slowed so far, but the organization still receives 6-7 calls a day.

“Climate change has increased temperatures and reduced precipitation and snow cover,” writes Diaz. “As temperatures rose, more wells were underproduced or dried and received more calls from residents who lost access to water.”

Which official records are held confirms the experience of self-help. The drought was cruel at the drinking water wells in the valley.

Groundwater levels plummeted as farmers relied heavily on pumping to maintain their crops. The dryness and excessive pumping left behind shallow privately owned drinking wells that were struggling to produce water throughout the valley.

The figures held by the California Department of Water Resources through an online system show a sharp increase in dry wells this summer.

This system shows 822 drywells reported so far in 2021 and 368 reported in valleys. Of those dry valley wells, 116 have been reported in the last 30 days. By the end of 2015, the third year of the last drought, a total of 1,265 drywells were reported.

“We see numbers similar to what we saw in the last drought,” said Steven Srpinghorn, who oversees engineering geologists at DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office.

However, the state reporting system is voluntary and does not represent all drywells, Springhorn said.

The well is dry because the groundwater level has dropped below where the well pump is located, that is, because the pump needs to be lowered, or because the water level has dropped below the well itself and is useless, Springhorn said. Said.

He added that DWR is working to minimize the time it takes to get help from Drywell’s reports to people on earth. When the report arrives, the department will notify self-help and local county officials so that localized support can be coordinated.

Self-help has 602 mobile water tanks in the valley. So far this year, 202 has been deployed. The state pays for the installation of tanks and weekly water replenishment.

Linda Reese has been struggling for years to dry the well. But this summer was something she had never experienced before.

Reese lives east of Clovis in Fresno County, with a family of seven spanning two homes. They have two domestic wells. According to Reese, the summer months are always a problem. Wells usually start to dry intermittently, but only for a few hours at a time. Wells usually recover fairly quickly when the family stops using water.

But this summer, the well began to dry in May.

“We ran out of water faster than ever,” Reese said. “And it started to take longer and longer to recover.”

According to Reese, the water isn’t out for seven hours at a time. The family buys water every few weeks to fill a 2,000-gallon storage tank for about $ 600 a month. They also sometimes stored water in their pools.

Still, it’s not enough to live normally.

The family has reduced the amount of laundry. And Reese’s grandchildren often bathe in the pool to take advantage of all the water they have.

“This summer was particularly terrible,” Reese said.

The Reese well is 220 feet deep. However, the property is located on an underground granite ledge, which makes excavation very expensive, Reese said.

Self-help dispatched a field technician to Reese’s property, who determined that his family was eligible for a weekly replenishment organization’s tank program. On October 11, a 2,500 gallon tank was installed.

Reese said it was a great relief. The daughter shed tears when she heard that her family would get reliable water. The overall landscape of Reese’s neighborhood has changed in recent years as the family had to retrieve the thirsty dead Redwood and Sycamore trees.

“All the pastures that used to be green are now just weeds and soil. No one has the water to support them,” Reese said. “It’s very hard to see things die.”

Reese is worried about the future.

“This isn’t a permanent fix, it’s what we’re doing now,” Reese said. “We are band-aid for bleeding.”

SJV Water is a non-profit, independent online news publication dealing with water in the San Joaquin Valley. Lois Henry is the CEO / Editor of SJV Water.She can reach at

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