Water-loan bill could help drought-stricken East Porterville

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A water-loan bill is headed to the Senate. It would create a $10 million, low interest loan program for homeowners with dry or contaminated wells. (KFSN)

A water-loan bill is headed to the Senate. It would create a $10 million, low interest loan program for homeowners with dry or contaminated wells. Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, authored the bill to help people in East Porterville.

Yolanda Serrato is under a lot of pressure. She has cancer and the medical bills are piling up. "It's not easy for me to pay," she said.

Each bill is a new problem, stacked on top of a big one outside. She lives on the East side of Porterville where water is in short supply and hundreds of wells are dry, including hers. She said, "We need a lot of help and whoever is in the situation to help us, we need the help."

Assemblyman Mathis is doing his best. He authored AB-954, a bill that would create a low-interest water loan program and free up $10 million to help people like Serrato.

The bill made it through the Assembly and now, it has to get through the Senate. Action News talked with Mathis about it over the phone. "This bill gives them the help, a hand up so they can get back on track with their lives," he said.

More specifically, the loans would help people dig deeper wells, clean up contaminated water and even tie into the city's supply. The last option could be tricky though. Porterville is in phase 3 of a water conservation plan and it has to cut back on water use by 32 percent, compared to 2013.

City Manager John Lollis said, "How do we extend, that requires new water sources."

He says the city is working on three new wells. One will be online in December. It's not clear how many new connections would be possible but $10 million, according to Mathis, is enough to hook up 1,000 homes. Serrato is hoping her home will be one of them. "Who knows how long we'll have water, so I'd rather hook up to the city," she said.

Even though it would be one more bill, Serrato says it would still take away a lot of stress because having water on this side of town is priceless.
Related Topics:
politicsbillssenatedroughtbeat the droughtwatercalifornia waterwater conservationPortervilleTulare County
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