Where: California
Problem: Individual wells have failed, owners need funding to drill new wells.
Solution: RCAC’s Loan Fund provides financing to help homeowners replace and repair wells; environmental staff provide well assessments, workshops.

For nearly half a decade, California suffered through one of the worst droughts on record. Thousands of residents in the state’s rural interior who rely on individual water wells, have seen those wells go dry, forcing families to live without working faucets, showers and toilets and to purchase costly bottled water for drinking and cooking.

RCAC accessed a variety of resources to assist California’s hardest hit homeowners.

During 2014 –15, RCAC received $554,000 from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development through the Household Water Well System Grant (HWWS) program. This grant allows RCAC to provide low-interest loans of up to $11,000 to construct, refurbish or replace individual household water well systems. Because well costs often exceed the USDA limit, RCAC added more than $150,000 of its own funds to allow for loans of up to $18,000.

In 2015, California’s governor directed State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to use up to $5 million to replace wells for individual house¬holds and small water systems. RCAC received a $1 million SWRCB grant in June 2016 to provide both low interest loans and grants. Within months, funds had been disbursed to 26 homeowners.

In addition to the funding once a new well is installed RCAC staff performs an inspection and provides the homeowner with information on maintenance and operation, the importance of quality testing and water conservation.

In total, RCAC’s Loan Fund has provided assistance in the form of grants and loans to 130 homeowners affected by the drought.

In addition to providing financing, RCAC has funding from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide well assessments and workshops to private well owners not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. A well assessment can identify potential threats to individual wells that may impact drinking water quality and safety. Assessments include visual inspection of possible contamination sources and water quality testing. Since launching the program, RCAC has performed 58 well assessments, and in the process is working with environmental health officials to build skills and capacity.

Visit RCAC’s household water well grants and loans programs page for more information.