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County approves $200,000 for well repairs in unincorporated communities

While Stanislaus County has developed multiple strategies to resourcefully combat issues caused by the ongoing drought in the state of California, the Board of Supervisors took one step further on Tuesday by unanimously voting to adopt a financial assistance pilot program for a select group of local water well users.

The plight of insufficient water is felt by people across the state and there are individuals in nearby communities that are suffering considerably. Residents in agricultural unincorporated communities, such as Denair, are facing wells drying up and without the funds to repair them are suffering from a lack of potable water. However, those whose wells have run dry will have the opportunity to apply for funds in upcoming weeks as the County approved the Emergency Domestic Water Well Financial Pilot Program.

This first-time program allocates $200,000 for loan assistance from the County’s Economic Development Bank to “assist with defraying the cost of repair or replacement of adversely affected, domestic use water supply wells that have lost their ability to pump groundwater”. According to Assistant Executive Officer of  Stanislaus County Keith Boggs, this is an innovative program that targets a select group of people, such as the working poor, who cannot afford to fix their own wells but are too advantaged for funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Loan Program.

 “I believe this is the first thing of its kind and it really is turning crisis into creativity,” said Boggs.

Those currently bearing a significant financial hardship, failing well, and diminishing groundwater table will be able to apply for a portion of the $200,000 in upcoming weeks and will be charged with repaying the loan with a one percent interest rate over the next five to seven years. Those eligible to receive funds include those who meet the following criteria: a minimum credit score of 650; an income of up to 170 percent of the median income; owner and resident of an unincorporated, residential parcel; and a total debt not to exceed value ratio of 80 percent.  Applicants must also review all Emergency Domestic Well Recovery Loan Program eligibility requirements and verify that estimates of repairs do not include unreasonable upgrades or replacements by a company not certified by the county.

Preference will be given to the elderly aged 65 and older as well as fixed income residents. Program funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and is contingent upon the applicant meeting the requirements and submitting a complete application.

Once available, applications should be submitted to the Department of Environmental Resources and will be reviewed by a committee including: one board supervisor, the water resources manager, the chief executive officer or signee, and the auditor controller or designee.