Agriculture · Hanford

Kings Co. seeks additional water from state for parched Kettleman City

With a looming water crisis on hand at Kettleman City, Kings County officials are continuing their campaign to urge the state to provide additional water to ensure that the residents in the beleaguered town can survive. 

The Kings County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that requests the Department of Water Resources to give Kettleman City an emergency allocation of water supply for 2022. 

The board requested the state provide 310 acre-feet in order to meet the needs of the community, which has a population around 1,500. 

“This is needed, it’s urgent, and we want to make sure we don’t have an emergency next year,” Supervisor Richard Valle said. 

As the drought has ravaged the Central Valley this year, Kettleman City has had tens of thousands of its farmland fallowed, leading to job losses for the already poverty-stricken community. 

The city’s water treatment plant receives its water supply through Kings County’s contract with the Department of Water Resources. At maximum, Kettleman is allocated a 900 acre-foot portion of the contract. 

Last year, the city was granted five percent of its contracted water supply for 2021, far short of its minimum needs, but carryover from previous years helped make up for the deficit. 

However, with little to no carryover in sight, the city is projected to run out of water by the end of the year. 

The Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District stores the county’s water that is allocated by the State Water Contract. 

Justin Mendes, a regulatory specialist with the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District, thanked the supervisors for acting in a timely manner to make the needed request of the state. 

“This area is paying an exorbitant amount for water that we’re not getting, and it’s double impacting the residents of Kettleman City, who some of them may have lost a job because of the fallowing of acres,” Mendes told the board. 

“And now they’re physically running out of water in their homes.” 

Before the board passed the resolution, Chairman Pedersen had some harsh words for Governor Gavin Newsom and his administration for not taking care of the Central Valley. 

“This administration seems hellbent on breaking the Central Valley,” Pedersen said. 

“It’s been multiple listings of requests for infrastructure funding and other sources, and it just seems to be turned down every time or all kinds of amendments added to bills that would help the Central Valley. And we keep having to beg for water. It’s really unfortunate and actually very distasteful.” 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.