A water plant in northeast Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley may shut down by the fall due to lack of available water for filtration, according to local ABC News affiliate KERO-23. The Kern River, which flows from the Sierra Nevada range south to the Central Valley, is near record low levels, which has potentially dire consequences for the plant and the city.
Local residents had already felt pressure to conserve water. Now, local water district manager Rudy Valles says that the plant has already cut flows through the plant by two-thirds, from 21 million gallons a day to 7 million gallons a day. “We’re looking at scenarios, if we had to shut down, how would we operate, how would we get water to that area,” he told KERO.
Residents consider the drought an emergency, and local authorities are searching for alternatives. Recent rains across the Golden State may indicate a strong El Niño effect this year, possibly bringing a rainy winter. That may not be enough rain to end the state’s water crisis–or enough rain in time to fill the Kern River and save northeast Bakersfield’s water plant.