Del Oro shuts down well-deactivation rumors

Local resident of Springville stands and expresses his frustration with Del Oro Water.(Kenny Goodman)

After getting back the results for a record request, some Springville residents have begun to worry that the wells supplying them will be shut down due to a lack of permitting, which their supplier refutes

SPRINGVILLE – In a recent podcast, the Water Warriors Against Del Oro (WWADO) shared that they heard from a source — which they chose not to name — that, due to a lack of permitting for electrical work, the wells currently supplying Springville residents would be shut down. However, according to Del Oro (DOWC), the company that owns the wells, this is not the case.

The podcast was posted on Oct. 3, and that same day, Rafaella Woods, the resident leading the charge against Del Oro, reached out to The Sun-Gazette in regards to the information they had received from their unnamed source.

“The text I got at four o’clock (Oct. 3) is, ‘county inspectors are notifying DOWC to disconnect the two wells with exposed wiring or SCE will shut down their power,’” Woods said. “That’s because of the exposed wire, (but) we also heard they could find no records for those wells whatsoever.”

This information was repeated in the podcast, which also went over an apparent lack of permitting for the wells themselves, which again, has since been proven to not be the case.

“So this (an email response from the resource management agency) says ‘according to our permit system, there are no permits issued to (DOWC) for the River Island Country Club (wells),’” said Erin Betts, who is one of the four other women who help run WWADO. “There’s no permits at all in the system for Del Oro Water.”

According to an official statement made by Janice Hanna, DOWC’s director of corporate accounting and regulatory affairs, to The Sun-Gazette, the wells do have permits. The permits were issued to the company that built them prior to DOWC’s acquisition of the water district.

“Del Oro Water purchased River Island Water Company in September 2008,” Hanna stated. “Del Oro Water acquired the grant deeds and easements for the water utility from River Island Water Company at that time… Del Oro Water has not drilled any wells since the acquisition.”

This information was echoed by Adam Forbes, the senior control engineer for Visalia District State Water Resources Control Board, who stated that Del Oro didn’t need to obtain new permits for the wells since they had existed previously.

“If they were permitted in the past as an active well, and shut down due to the floods, they weren’t removed as an active source from Del Oro’s permit,” he said. “So we didn’t need to do any permitting actions recently to get the reactivated.”

As far as permits for the electrical work goes, Forbes was unable to comment due to it being outside of his jurisdiction. Hanna, however, reaffirmed that as of Oct. 10, Del Oro hasn’t received any requests to shut their wells down.

“In reviewing some accounting today for River Island, I discovered that the electrical contractor for the repair of the wells took out the permit which is normal procedure for a licensed contractor,” she stated. “The county nor SCE will be shutting the wells down.”

As of publication, it is unknown as to who tipped off the Water Warriors about the wells being shut down. As their initial record request was for wells permitted under Del Oro’s name and not those who drilled the wells in 2004, it simply could be a crossing of wires.

In the coming weeks, Del Oro hopes to begin operating their new treatment plant. Once operational, the wells will be switched to emergency reserves, which The Sun-Gazette covered in a previous article. In the meantime, residents can rest assured that, as of press time, their wells will remain online.

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