Most of us enjoy the convenience of using water to cook, drink, and clean, but not all San Joaquin Valley communities enjoy the same. This is especially true in communities like Highland Acres, a community of about 300 people located five miles west of the City of Tulare in Tulare County, where the drought conditions have lowered the groundwater table and caused 14 wells to go dry - with more expected to go dry in the upcoming months.
Currently, seven owner-occupied households have received a 2,500 gallon water tank that connects to their household plumbing system thereby temporarily restoring water. Some residents are also paying a monthly fee to obtain water from their neighbors via a water hose and drip irrigation-type systems.
Without a neighboring community close in proximity, residents in Highland Acres, also known as Okieville due to its Dust Bowl roots and history of migrants from Oklahoma who settled there, are unable to connect to an established water system. Self-Help Enterprises' Community Development department is working with residents and Tulare County to secure funds that will enable the community to establish a public water system. A community meeting, led by Self-Help Enterprises' Community Development Specialist Maria Herrera, was held on July 1 to discuss water source options available to the community for a long-term solution. At the conclusion of the meeting, the community supported the creation of a public water system. This would include drilling two new deep wells and installation of water mains to serve the residents.
Self-Help Enterprises' next steps are to work with Tulare County to secure grant funding for the long-term solution that will bring clean, reliable water to the families who have been impacted by the drought.