Rancho Tehama wells dry up as nearby commercial wells go in

Wells are drying up in Rancho Tehama but orchards nearby are putting in new commercial wells.

Posted: Sep 17, 2021 6:44 PM

TEHAMA COUNTY, Calif. - The current drought emergency is causing wells to run dry across the area.

People living in Rancho Tehama said their wells are running dry, as nearby orchards have new commercial wells going in.

"My well's not dry yet, but I fear that day, I genuinely fear that day," said Courtney Fernea, who lives in Rancho Tehama.

Teri Goulart is part of a group coming together in Rancho Tehama venting frustration over drying wells.

"I’m worried about my new well. it's 355 feet, and my first one was 200 and went dry after they finished this new ag well out here," Goulart said

And now, another new agriculture well going in.

"They should be putting a stop to all these wells even if they have permits,” Goulart said. “It takes away our safety, it takes away our health. We need that water to live."

Groundwater commission chairman Clay Parker said since Tehama has an upper and lower aquifer most wells that are going dry are not due to the AG wells.

"The majority of the wells going dry has nothing to do with the AG wells,” Parker said. “The upper goes down to 450, and that's where you are going to find 99% of domestic wells, and anything below 450 is the lower aquifer where the AG wells are getting their water from."

With no moratorium in place, anyone can apply for a permit to drill a well.

"I can tell you it's going to be months and months before they can get a well driller to do it," Parker said. "They are busy."

One woman leaves out extra buckets of water for her animals just in case her well runs dry.

Farmer Shanna Long said she sympathizes with the people whose domestic wells are running dry.

"When you are in an AG zone and you choose to build, you got to realize crops come first," Long said.

But AG is also feeling the impacts of the drought.

"I just would not like to place blame on one person or one place,” Long said. “I think we all would really like rain, that's what is going to get us through this."

The groundwater commission is working on an ordinance for wells, but Goulart asking for something to be done sooner.

Most of the wells in this community are around 300 feet deep, this well right here is only 150 feet deep and barely clinging on in Rancho Tehama.

The groundwater commission is working to ensure domestic wells are not being impacted by AG wells.

They will be holding a meeting and taking public comments on Tuesday.

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