Finding water to fill East Porterville tanks is a challenge

EAST PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A tank truck hauls nearly 7,000 gallons of water to serve the drought-parched homes of East Porterville every day. But driver Kyle Koontz says getting that water isn't easy.

"It's an extreme challenge; we can't find water anywhere," said Koontz.

Koontz has managed to find a private source near Bakersfield to fill his truck, but it's a 70-mile haul.

"A lot of fuel, a lot of time, you only have so much time in a day, so try and get as much done as we can," said Koontz.

A big truck supplies Jim Brough's smaller truck, which makes the home deliveries.

"So I just get up every day, and I have a route of as many as I can put in, 10 hours a day minimum, dumping water into 2,500-gallon tanks," said Brough.

The state of California, through various nonprofit agencies, is paying for the tanks and the water, but the job would be a lot easier and more homes could be served if they could find a closer source of water. The city of Porterville has been reluctant to provide city water to its neighbor, and other water districts don't want to let their water go outside their boundaries.

Brough sees the hardship and has a hard time understanding why others don't recognize this as a disaster.

"In a hurricane, we don't divide city and county; we come in and help everyone," said Brough.

Maria Martinez is among those who have been without running water in their homes for a year. In Spanish, she tells us it's been really bad to shower, to go to the bathroom, to wash your hands, we have had so many problems.

Brough gave her the few hundred gallons he had left in his tank and promised he would bring more as soon as Koontz can bring another load up from Bakersfield. Both men see a growing crisis and wish others would see it too.

Efforts are underway to make the situation better, but the bureaucracy seems to be going really slowly. The Porterville City Council will meet next week to decide if they have enough to provide water to their neighbors.

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