No-drink order still in place for west Goshen residents

January 27, 2013 12:40:53 AM PST
Temporary pumps are pushing potentially contaminated water into pipes, and even that fix could fail at any moment.

Both west Goshen Water District board members and Tulare County officials say there is not enough money in the district fund to pay for a desperately needed system upgrade.

Now the State Health Department is offering $250,000 to help but it could be weeks away from a solution.

"It's been, seriously, a living hell cause no showers," west Goshen resident Diana Mota said. "We have to go out of town to take a shower. Me and my kids, my family, it's just bad."

Until very early Friday morning Mota and hundreds of her neighbors had no running water.

The west Goshen Water District says the system was already on a backup pumps when the well partially collapsed and sent mud and gravel into the pipes. The debris burned out the pumps.

At a community meeting Friday night residents expressed their frustration as the district explained to them the water is flowing but still not safe to drink.

West Goshen Water District Water Board Member Lance Love said, "The nitrate levels are high; it's not safe for elderly or young. You have to be healthy. It's not wise to drink it."

Love says the nitrate levels have nothing to do with the broken pumps but they're still a concern.

County and state officials went out to the well site Friday hoping to find a long-term solution for pumping water.

Tulare County Supervisor Steven Worthly said, "It's operating today, but we don't know whether it will go down tomorrow or three days or three weeks from now, it's a very tenuous situation."

A situation Mota is tired of dealing with. The dishes in her home are piled up because of the recent problems. And she says she shouldn't have to pay for water that's not usable.

"They never even give us a credit when the water is not good," Mota said. "And now we get this big mess."

Dozens of people also picked up bottled water from Goshen Elementary School following the community meeting.

Carly Ortiz of west Goshen said, "I just went and got four cases, you know. They're helping us; at least get drinking water into our homes."

Officials acknowledged the high frustration level but say they're doing all they can.

We know we need a longer term one. I believe the community believes the best approach would be to connect to the Calwater system in Visalia through Goshen.

Another solution would be to drill a new well. That idea is less likely to happen, however.

Water officials are hoping to present the community with a plan for the fix by its next meeting on February 6.

District President Lucy Hernandez said they still have water bottles available for people in the community.

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