Calif has major risk of forest fires. Hope
Danny D and everyone out there is OK.
With Dry Taps and Toilets, California Drought Turns
OCT. 2, 2014
PORTERVILLE, Calif. — After a nine-hour day working
at a citrus packing plant, there is nothing Angelica
Gallegos wants more than a hot shower.
But she has not had running water for more than five
months — nor is there any tap water in her near future —
because of a punishing and relentless drought in
residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking
glass, wash dishes or clothes, or even rinse their
hands without reaching for a bottle or bucket.
“Everything has changed,” said Yolanda Serrato, 54,
who has spent most of her life here. Ms. Serrato
warned her three children that they should cut down
on long showers, but they rebuffed her. “They kept
saying, ‘No, no, Mama, you’re just too negative,’
Then the sink started to sputter. The sole neighbor
with a working well allows them to hook up to his
water at night, saving them from having to use buckets
to flush toilets in the middle of the night. On a
recent morning, there was still a bit of the
neighbor’s well water left, trickling out the
kitchen faucet, taking over 10 minutes to fill
two three-quart pots.
Because the land is unincorporated, it is not part
of a municipal water system, and connecting to one
would be prohibitively expensive.
The Gallegos family’s drinking water comes only from
bottles, mostly received through donations but some
times bought at the gas station. For bathing, doing
dishes and flushing toilets, the family relies on
buckets filled with water from a tank set in the
front lawn, which Mr. Gallegos replenishes every
other day at the county fire station. Often, the
water runs out before he returns home from his job
as a mechanic, forcing Ms. Gallegos to wait for
hours before she can clean.
The family has spent hundreds of dollars to wash
their clothes at the laundromat and on paper goods
to avoid washing dishes. Ms. Gallegos recently
told her 10-year-old daughter that there was no
money left to pay for her after-school cheer
The local high school now allows students to arrive
early and shower there. Parents often keep their
children home from school if they have not bathed,
worried that they could lose custody if the
authorities deem the students too dirty, a rumor
that county officials have tried to dismiss.
Mothers who normally take pride in their cooking now
rely on canned and fast food, because washing vegetables
uses too much water.
For months, families called county and state officials
asking what they should do when their water ran out,
only to be told that there was no public agency that
could help them.
State officials say that at least 700 households have
no access to running water. Tulare County, just south
of Fresno, recently began aggressively tracking homes
without running water, delivering bottles to hundreds
of homes and offering applications for biweekly water
deliveries. In August, the county placed a 5,000-gallon
tank of water in front of a fire station on Lake
Success Road, and plans to add a second soon. A sign
in English and Spanish declares, “Do not use for
drinking,” but officials suspect that many do.
“We will give people water as long as we have it, but
the truth is, we don’t really know how long that will