Dear Chair Esquivel and Members of the SWRCB:
As the representatives of Tulare County’s first and fifth supervisorial districts, we write to request additional and immediate drought relief for the unincorporated and under-served community of Tooleville as they work towards water utility consolidation with the City of Exeter. We appreciate the proactive approach the SWRCB has taken thus far and extend that gratitude to our community partners who are the hands and feet of this operation. We urge you to continue this trend by taking interim action to secure a new temporary well, as it would be the most reliable and accessible source of water for Tooleville during what is projected to be an eight-year consolidation period.
A decade of drought in Tulare County has jaded our optimism for rainy years on the horizon. While we agree that Tooleville’s consolidation with Exeter is the practical path to water security, there remains eight years of water insecurity for Tooleville while consolidation is implemented. This would mean eight years of water hauls from the SWRCB at an estimated cost of $1,400,000 as water deliveries require purchased water, water tankers, contracted drivers, and fuel, not to mention the harmful emissions that result from the running of the water trucks over time. With a price tag of just $200,000, a new well is simply the most sensible, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective solution to ensuring water security for this under-served community.
As the drought rages on, Tooleville’s water security will only become more precarious and costly as their dilapidated wells eventually stop producing; making their only source of water bi-weekly water hauls paid for by the SWRCB. We believe it is in the best interest of all parties involved for the SWRCB to make immediate, interim investments in water infrastructure in Tooleville.
It is imperative that the residents of Tooleville have a reliable source of water during our harsh central valley summers. Summers in the Tulare County average over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and with little to no access to air conditioning units, the residents of Tooleville rely on swamp coolers to weather the summer heat. Any disruption in water deliveries or water pressure to their system will force the residents of Tooleville to manually apply water to their swamp coolers by hauling large buckets onto their roofs or risk the adverse effects of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
For the time being, the Albert and Morgan wells are producing sufficient water for the 77 utility connections in the community, albeit just barely. The collapsed casings and low water table are significant threats to the viability of the wells. Currently, 220 feet of each well is filled with silt, leaving only 130 feet of usable well depth, an amount comparable to many domestic wells serving single households.
We have been assured by the East Kaweah GSA Executive Director that the water table in the area is not exhausted. The Albert and Morgan wells are simply in such poor condition, and full of silt that they cannot access the water available to them. Both wells have been deemed unsalvageable and will be decommissioned after consolidation is complete.
Water haul deliveries are costly and create an avoidable and harmful impact in an environment that already suffers from some of the worst air quality in the state. For the reasons stated above, we strongly encourage you to take immediate action in preparation for the inevitable failure of the Albert and Morgan wells by drilling a temporary well for the community of Tooleville.
Dennis Townsend, Vice-Chair
Tulare County Board of Supervisors
Larry Micari, District One Supervisor
Tulare County Board of Supervisors