Climate Change and Drought

Regardless of whether drought and climate change are influenced by humans or is a natural phenomenon, we must face the problem and learn to adapt now or risk a calamity that will jeopardize the lives, economies, and available water resources of future generations. The San Joaquin Valley of California is a perfect place to start, and East Porterville may be the epicenter of drought and climate effects on communities.

East Porterville lies at the very foot of the Sierra Nevada where 75% of California's water arises.

East Porterville lies at the very foot of the Sierra Nevada where 75% of California's water arises.

With 250 media stories since July 2015 on drought and poverty, East Porterville alone is home to close to a thousand dry wells and that number increases at a frightening rate. The extreme drought, intensified by a changing climate, has left many with dry wells and NO WATER. As Tulare County and several organizations such as the Porterville Area Organizing Committee (PACC) and International Humanitarian Aid Organization donate water and tanks to families, these increasingly expensive short-term resources are dwindling and fail to provide a sustainable plan — the future looks grim.

In Porterville, the Tule River runs completely dry.

In Porterville, the Tule River runs completely dry.

Many large-scale farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are drilling thousands of feet below the soil surface to access deep aquifers because they have the funds to do it. This may provide a short-term solution for the privileged, but it will exhaust a non-renewable resource for everyone. Drilling deeper wells combined with a century of intense agricultural practice is responsible for the sinking of the Central Valley. The alternative of drilling a deeper well IS NOT A SOLUTION either for the long-term sustainability of water nor for families and communities who do not have deep pockets or, in most cases, own their own homes.

Tragic as it may seem, this is an opportunity for community and individual empowerment! We as citizens and the grassroots can make knowledgeable and achievable decisions on conserving water and mitigating the effects of climate change and do so on a local-wide (or home-watershed) scale.

So what do long-term water solutions look like and what is WildPlaces’ response as a stakeholder in this area?

  • Sierra Nevada Meadows are directly correlated with the water quality and quantity of the valley below. Improving the structural habitat of these high sierra meadows is an important task that we undertake. We welcome all to join us in an effort to restore our local watersheds and as a result, come to include the entire watershed within each drop from the home faucet. Falling in love with rivers and meadows again and taking direct action to protect them will help sustain life-giving water into the future.
  • Develop a water conservation guide for the community of East Porterville. The pamphlet describes various tactics that involve joining forces with community members to re-use and capture water.
  • Stress climate change awareness into the curriculum of the Porterville Unified School District with particular emphasis on East Porterville schools. The students of Porterville need to learn about climate change so that they may develop the appropriate adaptation skills and not remain stagnant or in fear.
  • Have a presence in East Porterville at the Legget Ave. water distribution/public showers site and at schools.

Donate to our efforts or volunteer for projects that help communities adapt to drought and climate change and that create pride in using less.

WildPlaces' volunteers conduct meadow restoration projects throughout the southern Sierra headwaters.

WildPlaces' volunteers conduct meadow restoration projects throughout the southern Sierra headwaters.