Most of us in the U.S. take clean, safe drinking water for granted. Turn on the faucet and there it is. But for many people living in the rural areas of the San Joaquin Valley, their drinking water typically comes from wells that pump groundwater. Most groundwater meets drinking water standards. However, groundwater can contain high levels of arsenic, nitrates, uranium, pesticides and other contaminants – risking the health and safety of entire communities. As water systems age, pipes corrode, pumps break down and well casings fail. They begin to leak, become inefficient to operate, and may allow bacteria, sand and other debris to enter the system.
Self-Help Enterprises is currently working with 85 small disadvantaged communities to develop water projects. Such disadvantaged communities are recognized as having critically high rates of poverty and unemployment, with many having an urgent need for investment in water infrastructure.
Self-Help Enterprises is a catalyst in seeking funding and providing technical assistance to communities with contaminated water sources who are working towards community-wide solutions and a permanent source of clean drinking water. Self-Help Enterprises’ staff support community groups and local Boards in preparing water quality investigations, assessing water quality problems, assessing water system needs, and applying for and administering government loans and grants for project financing. Staff also supports local Boards and water system personnel with training and technical assistance to improve services, maximize efficiency, and manage system finances and in developing user rates.
“Being without water is very stressful because every time the community’s pump was out, we didn’t know how long we were going to be without water. The tests for our new pipeline came back clear and our water is safe to drink. I can cook and have a glass of water.”
~ Lucy Hernandez, President of the West Goshen Mutual Water Company
How to know if my water is safe?
Obtaining information about your water quality requires you to identify whether you are served by a public water system or obtain water from a private well. Those served by a public water system can obtain information from their water provider. If you are served by a private well, a water laboratory can test your well. This is a list of drinking water laboratories certified by the State of California that is searchable by county.
What drinking water contaminants are common in the San Joaquin Valley?
Common contaminants for the Tulare Lake Basin region, which encompasses most of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties, include: Nitrate, Arsenic, Uranium, 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), 123 Trichloropropane (123 TCP) and bacteria. Bacteria, if present in the drinking water, may have immediate health impacts therefore taking a bacteria sample is strongly encouraged. Some contaminants are more common than others in certain areas.
How much does it cost to drill a new well, deepen an existing well or lower a pump in an existing well?
Cost per private well depends on several factors, including geology, depth, and location. Self-Help Enterprises may be able to assist you with low-interest loans for private wells.
If you are interested in more information about assistance with community wells or well water testing, please complete the interest attached form. A Self-Help Enterprises staff member will contact you.