With the city on track to run out of water in the next few weeks, Coalinga officials spend over $1 million to supply the community through the winter months.
Coalinga usually gets its water from the San Luis Reservoir, about 90 miles northwest of the city. But as California faces historic drought conditions, reservoir levels were pushed to dangerous new lows and the US Bureau of Reclamation reduced the amount of water Coalinga could take from the reservoir this year by 80 percent. The restriction left Coalinga short about 600 acre-feet of water through March 2023, which is nearly 200 million gallons, or the equivalent of about 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Officials calculated that the city could run out of water by December 1st of this year. In order to ensure water for its residents, Coalinga turned to the increasingly expensive open market, purchasing water from a California public irrigation district last week. The cost was close to $1.1 million dollars. City Councilmember Adam Adkisson told CNN the same amount of water used costs $114,000.
Coalinga, located in Fresno County, is home to an estimated 17,465 people. Like much of the state, residents there have been living under strict water restrictions which prohibit watering their front lawns or washing their cars.
The West is facing its 23rd year of drought conditions. Across the region, reservoirs are shrinking and wells have dried up. The Colorado River, which serves much of California, is seeing frequent shortages. Seven states will have to divide what’s left of the river in the coming years.
Coalinga’s struggles underscore the need for investment in renewable water supplies. Our region is in a megadrought, and conservation alone will not solve this crisis. Rebuild Socal Partnership will continue to advocate for investments in recycled water programs and renewable water sources that will play a critical role in ensuring Southern California’s water future.
To learn more about the drought and proposed solutions, check out the Rebuild SoCal Zone Podcast, where we’ve launched a mini-series focused on California’s Water Crisis.
Rebuild SoCal Partnership provides information about other construction projects that affect communities throughout Southern California. Keep up-to-date on essential infrastructure issues by signing up for the Rebuild SoCal Partnership newsletter. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and listen to The Rebuild SoCal Zone podcast.