The state Department of Water Resources said Wednesday that it is awarding $7.8 million to Orange Cove to fix its aging water system and $300,000 “to complete urgent repairs” on two wells in Madera Ranchos.
“This is the best news I’ve heard in my 42 years (in elected office),” said longtime Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez. “We’ve basically run out of water. Our people have had to let their yards go away because of the drought, and because we’re a farmworker community, we’ve felt the economic impact the drought has had on agriculture.”
The grant will enable Orange Cove, which is in eastern Fresno County, to stretch the municipal water it does have. Four miles of old pipelines will be replaced. In addition, the funds will pay for a new well, storage tank, and booster pump station. The town is reliant on water from the Central Valley Project and its allocation has been cut in drought years.
“Small communities like Orange Cove need these grants because they can’t pass the costs on to rate-payers. The residents can’t afford it,” said Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes, whose district includes Orange Cove. “Now all they need is more water.”
Madera Ranchos Repairs Add Water Capacity
The broken Madera Rancho wells are in Maintenance District 10A, which services the area bounded by Avenue 13, Road 36, Kensington Drive, and Road 38 in Madera County.
It is expected that when the repairs are completed, the wells will add 1,000 gallons a minute of capacity to the troubled water system.
DWR Grants Total $28 Million for 15 Communities
DWR announced that $28 million is headed to 15 California communities —11 of which are identified as disadvantaged — with this round of funding. The agency awarded $25 million in a previous round.
The Small Community Drought Relief program is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to small communities impacted by the drought, officials said.
“As drought conditions continue, it’s clear that our smaller communities do not have the same resources as their urban counterparts to address the impacts of drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth in a news release. “The department is working diligently to evaluate applications and provide support to the communities that need it most.”
Said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board: “The State Water Board and DWR will continue to actively engage local managers throughout the state to ensure they are aware of and accessing the support needed to manage through this difficult drought.”
To see the complete list of projects funded by the DWR grants click on this link.