Stanislaus County leaders could approve a plan Tuesday for responding to water shortage emergencies.
In late July, supervisors said they wanted to see an emergency plan for assisting residents in case an unincorporated community or an entire rural neighborhood were to lose access to well water. In the past year, many domestic wells on residential properties have gone dry, and conditions could be far worse in 2015 if the drought continues.
This morning, supervisors will receive a report from the county Office of Emergency Services that outlines what assistance would be provided to residents who lose access to water and how the response would be coordinated with other agencies.
According to the report, the county would use state-approved vendors for supplying bottled water, portable showers, sinks and laundry facilities for residents in an emergency.
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The county will coordinate with local agencies to identify other resources for providing emergency food or making repairs to restore water service.
Dale Skiles, assistant director of Emergency Services, said the office is preparing for incidents such as residents losing water service in a rural mobile home park or a small unincorporated town. Acute water shortages are occurring in other areas of the San Joaquin Valley, including East Porterville, where residential wells dried up and 1,000 residents were left without water.
Skiles said a threat assessment group will be formed to investigate reports and determine if a true emergency exists. The proposed definition for an emergency that would trigger a response from local agencies is “extreme peril to the safety of persons or property.”
If an emergency is declared, the Office of Emergency Services would coordinate a response to deliver drinking water, water for maintaining health and safety conditions, sanitation equipment and other assistance. According to the report, The Salvation Army Modesto Citadel is in charge of drought-related food distribution in Stanislaus County.
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency and ordered officials to plan for potential water shortages in California. A Stanislaus County drought task force was established in February, including the nine cities; large irrigation districts; the American Red Cross; and county, state and federal agencies.
Earlier this month, the county launched a low-interest loan program to assist individual homeowners who can’t afford to replace dry wells. The county is making a total of $200,000 in loan money available to homeowners with incomes up to $83,322 a year.