Poplar digs up access to clean water

Tulare County Supervisor Larry Micari presents recognition to the Poplar Community Board of Directors. (Left to Right) Supervisors Micari, Lita Domingo, Anna Bayuden Domingo, Board President Arturo Rodriguez.(Kenny Goodman)

Local officials, residents of Poplar gather to break ground for construction of a new well to ensure the community can have access to drinking water for years to come

POPLAR – Residents can be flooded with new hope now that 12 years of planning is coming together to bring the community improved access to accessible, clean water.

A new well in Poplar had its groundbreaking on Monday, Sept. 18, to celebrate the increased access to clean water in the area. Poplar has been pursuing a new well for the last 12 years due to the high level of contaminants in the water. After years of planning, the community has now received assurance they will have safe drinking water for years to come.

“Today’s an exciting day…ever since I became responsible for this area, I see a lot of good movement forward in this well (which) I do know is desperately needed,” Tulare County Board of Supervisors vice chair Larry Micari said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Thank you for coming and dedication to provide safe, affordable drinking water and residence of Poplar.”

The community of Poplar currently has two functional wells and one emergency well that contains too many contaminants to use. This means that if one of the main wells has a problem, the whole community only has one well to rely on. This made the new well a necessary addition to Poplar which is why the project has been in the works since 2011.

“The initial application that we did to the state was back in 2011 and we finally got the funding agreement with the state of California in 2015,” engineer Nick Keller said at the ceremony. “We’ve been working hard ever since. We drilled the test well for water quality purposes (and to figure out) how we were going to design this well.”

The communications and organizing director at Central Valley Empowerment Alliance, Arturo Rodriguez, expressed at the groundbreaking that a small community such as Poplar would not be able to get the funding for such a costly project if not for local leaders giving their support as they reach out to the state and federal government.

“This third well has been desperately needed to ensure that Poplar has safe, affordable and secure water for its residents. A community cannot thrive if they worry about something like having enough water, taking a shower and drinking and cooking,” Rodriguez said.

Each step in the process of digging the new well has taken funding and preparation, according to Rodriguez. He said discovering where to dig the well is an important step to make sure the water in the area does not have too many contaminants.

“About five years ago, our consultants, engineers, decided to drill a test well about 50 feet directly north of where this one’s been dug, so that we can have an accurate assessment of what’s in the ground,” Rodriguez said.

According to sources who attended the ceremony, funding for the projects came from a variety of grants including funds awarded from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We’re working to empower local leaders and elected official water board members to continue the work in providing access to clean water supporting projects… and to ensuring that all communities – rural unincorporated, wherever they may be – are able to live healthy and dignified lives with safe and affordable drinking water,” Antonio Juaregui from Community Water Center said.

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