The 2012 drought is not yet over for Tulare County - even though Water Year 2017 received more than “normal” precipitation, one wet year cannot make up for multiple dry years.

In Tulare County, as in other areas throughout California, where residents rely upon a single water source and are not connected to municipal water systems, water demand side management (conservation and efficiency) can lessen the need for trucked or bottled water but will not solve the emergency. Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs) that condense humidity appear promising but are high energy consumers and low water producers, yielding small quantities of water at prices comparable to that of bottled water.Pending future technology developments, residents served by a single groundwater well need at least one additional water supply to reduce risks to public health and safety. In the meantime, the State and County continue to deliver water to residents that have no other water supply options.

Photo Credit: Porterville Area Coordinating Council
Photo Credit: Porterville Area Coordinating Council
The highest value water resource from the perspective of drought resilience is water use efficiency
    1. Tulare County has two primary water resources: surface water and groundwater.
    2. There is little surface water storage capacity in Tulare County.
    3. Groundwater aquifers in Tulare County are critically overdrafted.
    4. Replenishment and potential restoration of the County’s groundwater aquifers is a long-term strategy with uncertain results: one gallon of recharge does not equate to one gallon of groundwater supply.
The second highest value water resource from a drought resilience perspective is recycled water

production and use that reduces water demand, especially potable, both municipal and customer-side. Maximizing production and use/reuse of recycled water reduces both surface and groundwater withdrawals.

Runoff, whether urban or stormwater, should be collected and used,

and treated if needed to reduce use of valuable potable water supplies for nonpotable uses.

Groundwater recharge opportunities from natural flows (e.g., stormwater runoff from precipitation events) should be maximized

to the greatest possible extent.

The highest value water resource strategy is therefore to not use it at all – i.e., to substantially reduce water use by increasing water conservation and efficiency, leaving as much groundwater in the ground as possible, and recharging aquifers whenever there is stormwater, urban water, unutilized recycled water, and other suitable water resources.

Types of Water Reuse

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Direct potable reuse (DPR)

There are two forms of DPR. In the first form, purified water from an advanced treatment facility is introduced into the raw water supply immediately upstream of a water treatment plant. In the second form, finished water is introduced directly into a potable water supply distribution system, downstream of a water treatment plant.

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Indirect potable reuse (IDPR)

In IPR, purified water from an advanced water treatment facility is introduced into an environmental buffer, such as a water body upstream from the intake to the drinking water facility, for a specified period of time before being withdrawn for potable purposes (see also de facto potable reuse).

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De facto potable reuse

The downstream usage of surface waters as sources of drinking water that are subject to upstream wastewater discharges (e.g., unplanned potable reuse).

[1] In terms of water years, what has been commonly referred to as the “2011-2016” drought, actually spanned water years 2012-2016 (October 2011 through September 2016).

[2] See report Figure 2. Groundwater vs. Surface Water in a Dry vs. Wet YearFigure 18. Historical Precipitation, Tulare Basin (Water Years 2001-2018); and Figure 19. Annual Precipitation in Visalia (Water Years 2006-2018).