East Porterville, USA: where the faucets run dry.
Part 1, Part 2 here.
“I can’t believe that in 2015 we are asking for help. You would call the city because you are in the city of Porterville and they would say, ‘no you are not part of the city, you are part of the county.’ We practically begged for water.”
A historical drought is defying the inhabitants of East Porterville, California. For over four years this area located on the West coast of the United States has coped with a tremendous drought. Now, many families – largely impoverished Latino farm workers with no central water system – are running out of water. They rely on shallow private ground wells that are going dry due to the lack of rainfall; the water reserves in these wells that should feed water into their homes are completely dry.
Much has changed in this small farming community in the Sierra Foothills of California since the start of the drought.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”14″]The lack of water changed the way of life for the residents.[/pullquote] The children used to be out riding their bikes, playing basketball and kickball; this hasn’t happened for months now. The lack of water changed the way of life for the residents. No longer can they bathe normally since there is no tap water and the little water left is rationed. Water for cooking must be brought in buckets. They are facing unemployment and medical issues caused by stress and depression. It is very eerie – that ghostly kind of feeling that is not a happy place.
Mari Cruz Mejia and her young daughters are feeling the effects of the California drought, as their home is not connected to the public water system belonging to the incorporated area of town. Once, they had ample water to sustain the family’s needs, now they rely on deliveries of bottled water. Mejia’s well went dry in 2014, first discharging a combination of water and sand every now and then until it finally gave up. Life without running water sheds light on just how many aspects of life require it. For Mari Cruz it just feels like a it’s out of her grasp.
“I’m adapting, but my girls are not.” Explained Mari Cruz. “At first, when I would haul in a bucket of water and I would heat it for them to take a shower I would say, ‘A bucket for each of you guys.’ My little one would say, ‘Oh my God why are we doing this? Just turn on the faucet and the water will come out.’ And I would have to explain, ‘No, no water will come out, we have no water.’ So it’s hard for them and I try to make it easier by having everything ready so they don’t see how much effort it takes, but it is still heartbreaking. For me it is very hard, I’m hauling the water and warming it up daily.”
“I drive and I cry because I can’t believe we are doing this,” remarked Mari Cruz. “I can’t believe that in 2015 we are asking for help. You would call the city [and] because you are in [East] Porterville and they would say, ‘no you are not part of the city, you are part of the county’. We practically begged for water. You go to the city council and they would say they ‘we’re working on it’ and a year later they are still working on it. The county has come now for emergency services, they are going door to door. Why do they need to go door to door? They see the tanks everywhere. Why do they need to go door to door, for what? You see the need, just fix it. What else do they need to know?”
Part 2 here.
Ricardo has been a cinematographer, videographer, and photographer for the past 30 years. He has a multicultural background with substantial international experience in documentaries, dramatic films, mini series, commercials, network promos and corporate videos. He has provided services to various television networks and production companies including, Reuters, Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Sundance Channel, Sony Pictures, AXN Japan, TV Asahi Japan, RAI Italy, and many others.
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