Tulare County gets grant to seal up water wells

There are hundreds of unused wells in rural areas of Tulare County. They can be big safety hazards. And now, the area is getting help from the state to seal them up.
May 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are hundreds of unused wells in rural areas of Tulare County. They can be big safety hazards. And now, the area is getting help from the state to seal them up.

The county is trying to close up the wells to try and increase water quality. If there's a pipe sticking out of the ground in your backyard and you're not sure what it is, chances are, it's a well.

Jessi Snyder with the Self-Help Enterprises said, "Take a look at it maybe it is an old well and consider how dangerous it can be for your children your pets and for your groundwater."

Tulare County just received nearly $300,000.00 from the state as part of prop 84 to seal up some of the 500 unused wells in rural areas.

Officials say the wells need to be properly abandoned, and can be serious safety and health hazards if they aren't. The wells go at least 60-feet down into the ground, straight to the underground aquifer.

Denise Akins with Tulare County Water Resources said, "A lot of them aren't big enough in diameter for a person to fit down but definitely any sort of storm runoff and so if there's an oil bucket laying around and the bucket goes into the well, we have heard of people tossing things down it because it's just a hole that goes to nowhere."

Whatever heads down that well goes into the county's water system. County officials hope by abandoning some of the wells, they can improve their water quality. Right now, they think they have the funding for about 80 wells. Now, they're just looking for people who have them.

Snyder added, "We're really looking at something in the neighborhood of $10,000 typically so it's easy to put that expense off so if you can get it paid for why not seize the opportunity."

Self-Help Enterprises will be working with county officials, by helping them find people in rural communities who have unused wells. Officials say as more rural communities form their own water districts, property owners no longer have to rely on their own private well, and they can be improperly covered.

Akins said, "It's really important to protect the water quality in Tulare County for our residents."

If you live in Tulare County and think you have a well on your property you're asked to call Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia.


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