We are pleased to report that the City of Needles has received funding from the State Water Resources Control Board. After months of outreach, advocacy, tireless communications, and political engagement we were successful in helping Needles get the funding to prevent its only operating well from imminent failure.
This triumph was reported on recently by the Los Angeles Times. California rushes funding to stem Needles water crisis – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
From the article: Yet over recent weeks, word arrived that state officials — flush with billions of dollars in surplus tax revenue — intend to hand over $2 million to pay for a new well that could be operational later this year. City officials are now breathing easier, even as they prepared for high temperatures of 111 degrees over Labor Day weekend.
Needles is one of the hottest cities in the nation and one of the poorest in California. It has faced what City Manager Rick Daniels calls a “life and death” situation after state officials notified the city that three of its four wells failed to meet state water quality standards.
The city is so short of cash that it couldn’t afford a new well and was instead relying on its single good well, which barely met demand. The well failed in late August, after an electronic control panel was fried in a power outage, and the city nearly ran out of water. The city has only 24 to 36 hours of water in storage tanks. City water technicians worked around the clock and restored the pump as reserves were nearly exhausted.
Overview – Rebuild SoCal Partnership became aware several months ago that the water board had put the City of Needles on notice that three of its wells showed manganese levels above the maximum allowable level of 50 micrograms per liter. Then in May, the water board issued a citation, requiring a corrective action plan by the end of 2021.
That is when we began to act and decided to advocate for the city and educate elected officials of the dangers of the single remaining well failing. It is our contention that water is at its core, a human right.
Grant Process and Approval – The State Water Resources Control Board grant application and approval process needs a substantial reform. The hurdles are high and the process is lengthy. The process is not set up to handle emergencies that require a rapid response. Even when a grant is approved, it can take many years before the funds are dispersed. There must be a mechanism in place to help approve and fund these projects that are most vital in a timely fashion.
Helping Other Cities – Rebuild SoCal Partnership has learned a lot throughout the process of helping Needles. While we are gratified that they have received funds for a new well, there is still much work to be done in the city of Needles. One thing that has become increasingly apparent is that there are many other “Needles” in California. These municipalities need assistance too. We aim to help disadvantaged communities (DACs) and provide the assistance they need to obtain the necessary funds.