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What You Gonna Do When The Well Runs Dry?
By Ernest Stewart
What you gonna do when the well runs dry?
You gonna run away and hide
I'm gonna run right by your side
For you pretty baby I'll even die
I'm Walking ~~~ Fats Domino
For the first time, the drought has vaulted over all other issues in recent polling as the top concern among Californians. Last winter ended up among the driest on record, exacerbated by record high temperatures. In April, Governor Jerry Brown issued a first-ever executive order mandating statewide reductions in water use. Trouble was, it didn't apply to farmers who continued to use their water wells, that had to be lowered as the water table fell, which left a lot of folks who depend upon their wells without any water!
For example, take East Porterville which is located in Tulare County, a region in the middle of California's agriculture-heavy Central Valley that's been especially hard hit by the state's historic drought. More than 7,000 people in the the county lack running water; three quarters of them live in East Porterville. The community doesn't have a public water system; instead, residents rely on private wells. But after years of drought, the nearby Tule River has diminished to a trickle, and the underground water table has sunk as more and more farmers rely on groundwater.
Like many small towns in the Central Valley, East Porterville is home to the pickers and packers of the fruits, veggies, and nuts grown nearby and distributed across the country. Many are poor -- more than half of the kids growing up in East Porterville fall below the poverty line. Therefore, as you can imagine, nothing's being done about it. For a while, the folks had to rely upon a few people who made a point of collecting bottled water and paper plates and giving them out to their thirsty neighbors. When the news of this went out to the media, the county finally stepped in and set up a distribution point to get free bottled water and showers (a trailer set up in a church parking lot), and sign up for bottled-water deliveries (half gallon per person per day). Tanks of nonpotable water sit outside the fire station; in the evenings, residents fill up barrels for things like laundry and bathing and flushing toilets. For those folks who don't have a car or can't walk to where it's set up, again, they have to rely on their neighbors for most of their needs.
It doesn't help matters that homes in the directly adjacent, wealthier town of Porterville have running water from the town's municipal water system. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is on the city boundary: locals take showers at Igelsia Emmanuel in East Porterville; directly across the street, in Porterville, is a green golf course.
In Detroit, they were shutting water off from families for owing the water department as little as $200 dollars; while at the same time, some Detroit golf courses owe the city as much as $500,000 and have yet to see a shut-off notice. It don't pay to be poor in America! One of the reasons we got this condo is because it isn't on the Detroit system, and all of our cold water is free. Of course, I live a few miles downstream of the world's largest fresh water lake, Lake Michi-Huron; and Michigan isn't in, and has never been in, a drought like the western states have.
While California had been in a drought for only four years, most of the surrounding states have been in a drought going on 15 years! Even where they can get more water by drilling deeper, like Las Vegas is doing in Lake Mead, it won't be long before the water table goes lower and people will be forced to move or die. From LA to west Texas, people are in for a rude awakening when too many of them try to move to the desert and the whole, fragile water system collapses. Ergo, if you live out west and are thirsty, you might consider moving to one the states bordering one of the Great Lakes. Or you could stay where you're at, and drink only bottled water, no matter how much the price rises. Dig yourself an "out house," use paper plates and plastic sporks to eat, and learn how to take sand baths!
04-27-1939 ~ 09-03-2015
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18-23-1922 ~ 09-04-2015
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12-31-1931 ~ 09-06-2015
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(c) 2015 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 13 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.