Water & Drought

Dry wells: Homeowners in Stanislaus County can apply for temporary water supply

Drought assistance is on the way for Stanislaus County residents who are waiting for a new well and could use a temporary water source for their homes.

Stanislaus County has begun taking applications for the temporary water assistance program, which received approval Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors.

Working with the nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises, the drought relief program will furnish a tank and small pump to restore water for homeowners with dry wells. After the system is installed, a service will deliver water to refill the tank on a routine schedule.

There is no charge for homeowners. The costs are covered by the $1 billion drought relief package approved by Gov. Jerry Brown in March, officials said.

County supervisors said they want to assist homeowners with dry wells who are waiting nine months to a year for a driller to sink a new well. While they wait, those residents have no tap water for showers, cooking, laundry or other needs.

The applications are on the county’s website. There are no income requirements. The program is for homeowners with failed wells in the unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County.

Applicants are expected to have a plan for repairing or replacing their wells.

Susan Atkins, director of partner programs for Self-Help Enterprises, said they hope to have the first tank on the ground in a couple of weeks. Self-Help is working out final agreements for contractors to install the systems.

The organization has provided temporary water supplies to residents in four other counties and also is rolling out the program in Merced County, Atkins said.

Drought-stricken residents are excited when the tank is installed, Atkins said. “We have a good response from people.”

A committee will review and approve the Stanislaus County applications. After a homeowner is approved, Self-Help will conduct a site inspection to verify the well has failed, review the plan for replacement or repairs and determine the best place for the storage tank. A small pump provides the pressure for restoring water to the faucets and toilets.

Homeowners are responsible for any electrical work needed for installation.

Stanislaus County also has a low-interest loan program to assist homeowners who need to replace dry wells. Those applicants have to meet income requirements.

San Joaquin County has been exploring a temporary water supply service for homes with failed wells. The county’s Office of Emergency Services has been referring homeowners needing new wells to state loan programs, said Lowell Allen, an emergency planner.

In Stanislaus County, applications for the Temporary Water Assistance program are on the front page of the county website, http://www.co.stanislaus.ca.us. For those without computer access, applications are available at the county Office of Emergency Services, 3705 Oakdale Road, Modesto. For information, call 209-552-3600.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321