East Porterville schools helping students who don't have water

It's yet another example of the far-reaching impact of the statewide drought. School locker rooms have become doubly important in one Valley community hit hard by the water shortage. And that's just part of the story.
EAST PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- There are countless students coming back to school with no water at home. Schools in East Porterville are stepping up to make sure all their students are taken care of.

The school year is in full swing. Students are already facing their first tests at Granite Hills High School in East Porterville. But for many students, challenges aren't just in the classroom.

"I have kids who have no water at all, and it's a struggle for them in the classroom. They have had to adapt in different ways that none of the rest of us have had to adapt," science teacher Diane Wagner said.

Wagner leads a group of students to help get water and food to families in their community.

"I think the best thing a teacher can do is letting the students know what's available for them," Wagner said.

Student Leslie Ontiveros reminds us there are fixes for a dry well, but they're expensive.

"I live with a single parent, and she pays all our bills, and I'm just wondering oh my goodness how much more of a struggle it's going to be for her if she does end up having to buy one of those water tanks?" Ontiveros said.

Granite Hills now opens its locker rooms early each morning so students can shower before class.

"We've all stepped up to this challenge," coach and teacher Rich Lambie said.

Lambie says the drought emergency has brought the school and community closer. Each week, more wells go dry. If a student's well isn't dry yet, there's still that underlying fear of "what if?"

"We're all living in the same place. It's not just one person trying to get water; its thousands," student Yazil Iniguez said.

That's why the school will continue to do what it can to help its students and their families.

"We're all praying for rain and hoping El Nino comes through," Lambie said.

There are also resources available from Tulare County, like portable showers.
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