Several water projects in the works in Glenn County as dry wells reach new highs

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Oct. 14—As drought conditions persist across the state, a record number of dry wells are being reported in Glenn County and local officials are about to launch several new water projects to ease the concerns related to these groundwater supply issues.

Amy Travis, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Services for the Glenn County Sheriff's Office, said there have been a total of 217 reports submitted related to groundwater supply issues, 151 of which are dry wells. Of the wells with reported groundwater supply issues, 92.63 percent are domestic, household wells, according to Travis, and the area that has been hit the hardest is the north part of the county outside the city of Orland.

"We have over 200 households without running water," said Travis. "This limits their sanitation abilities. Lack of running water limits the ability to complete daily activities such as shower, wash dishes, and flush toilets, in addition to limiting supply of drinking water."

According to Travis, these wells belong to private landowners and are not supplied by a community or municipal water source.

"This limits the ability to provide assistance, as the well is the responsibility of the landowner," said Travis.

Glenn County has experienced dry wells during past droughts, said Travis, with the most recent being in 2014-15.

"During the last drought we had approximately 30 households in the north part of the county report dry wells," said Travis. "As you can see, this drought is having a much larger impact."

In an effort to combat this issue, Travis said the city of Orland, in partnership with North Valley Community Foundation, has received an $8 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources to conduct an expansion project of the city water service.

"This grant will fund approximately 60 additional connections to the city water system," said Travis.

Glenn County, in partnership with North Valley Community Foundation, also received a grant from DWR for $1.7 million to develop two programs for residents experiencing well issues.

"The first program will be a bottled drinking water delivery service and the second program is a water tank program," said Travis. "Residents with a Well Incident Report on file will be able to apply for these programs soon."

According to Travis, the tank program will provide an above ground water tank, connection to the house, and hauled non-potable (non-drinking) water deliveries.

Information regarding these programs will be provided at a community meeting hosted by the city of Orland, Glenn County and DWR today.

To help assist residents affected by dry wells, several bottled water distribution events have been held over the past few months.

"Assemblyman James Gallagher assisted the county of Glenn with coordinating a large donation of bottled water from our local Amazon facility in July," said Travis. "Since July, we have hosted eight water distribution events and have distributed 42 pallets of water to the community."

According to Travis, bottled water for these events was donated from Amazon, Wal-Mart, the Assemblies of God Church, and Nestle — via the California Office of Emergency Services.

Travis said the Glenn County Sheriff's Office and the Office of Emergency Services coordinates the distribution events and volunteers from the Glenn County Sheriff's Volunteers and Search and Rescue programs. The Orland Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS) staff each of the events along with a few county staff from OES, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Unit, Planning Department, and County Administration.

"Support for the events from the Glenn County Board of Supervisors has been tremendous," said Travis. "Supervisors have also helped staff the events."

During the last distribution event, held Oct. 6, vouchers for showers at the Pilot Travel Center in Orland were handed out after the board of supervisors approved $15,000 of funds to be available to purchase such vouchers until the tank program is in place, said Travis.

Another bottled water distribution event is scheduled to take place Oct. 20 at the Orland Fire Department, 810 Fifth St., Orland, from 4-6 p.m.

Travis said the remaining six pallets of bottled water will be distributed at this event before events of this kind are discontinued with the start of the new public assistance programs under the grant.

It's required that those who participate are residents of Glenn County and that those residents complete a Glenn County Dry Well report.

While several programs are slated to begin in the coming months, Travis said the city of Orland and Glenn County continue to research additional funding for a drought appropriated under the state's fiscal year 2021-22 budget and will continue to look for opportunities to apply for funding for additional programs.

For more information or to fill out a Glenn County Dry Well report, visit www.countyofglenn.net/Drought.

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