South Valley county taking steps to ease drought impact on families

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands continue to live without water in their homes but a South Valley county made a decision today that could help relieve the situation for some.

Tulare County has spent thousands helping people during the drought and now they've made a decision to help even more people, but many here are hoping these are just temporary solutions.

On Tuesday Office of Emergency Services Manager Andrew Lockman came to the board with a question. He was hoping for guidance on whether or not to start adding temporary water tanks to rental properties where wells have gone dry. "We want to do this we're just concerned about the amount of resources out there to do it and what happens if we over-commit these resources and then something goes away and suddenly we aren't able to serve people."

Lockman says they have been putting water tanks at homes for the past year. Home-owners pay for the tank, then, non-profits haul water in to fill them. Lockman says United Way is spending $50,000 - $60,000 a week to truck in the water. That cost and the cost of water is reimbursed by the state. So far, this option is only available for people who own their homes. "Our rental residents are among the most vulnerable here in Tulare County," said Lockman.

A decision Tuesday now extends the program to rental properties based on several conditions. The landlords have to pay for the tank, and water will only be delivered as long as it's available. "In many cases the answer is going to be no right now because there is no water," said Chairman Steve Worthley, District 4, Tulare County.

In November the board will start looking at what to do with homes without water where landlords aren't fixing the problems.

Allen Ishida, District 1, of Tulare County said, "The landlords and the land owners you need to take responsibility for your own properties cause we're not going to be here forever."

The county does have money available to help families move but many say moving shouldn't be the only option because it pulls a family out of their support network.
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