By Leigh Martinez

DENAIR (CBS13) — Dried up wells could be the new natural disaster facing rural communities. Stanislaus County, however, said it has an emergency plan in place if multiple homeowners start running out of water.

Denair homeowner Gilbert Meeks’ well went dry on Memorial Day and he was without water for ten weeks. He relied on a hose and a neighbor to get by until a deeper well was drilled and the county and irrigation district stopped farmers from pumping too much ground water to replenish the canal.

Other rural homeowners, however, fear another year of extreme drought.

“The other well I have has dropped like 60 feet in the last 30 years,” said Denair homeowner Leroy Holmes. “I anticipate it’s going to drop and I anticipate it’s going to drop more.”

The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services said it has a plan for dry wells. It’ll treat it like any other natural disaster.

The OES is a part of the county’s Drought Task Force. It has met more than a half dozen times since it was formed in February to assess the county’s drought concerns. So far, the OES said the county overall isn’t in danger of running out of water, but if several wells go dry in a region, it’s prepared to bring in bottled water to homes.

Stanislaus County also has budget money set aside for affordable loans to dig new wells. Denair homeowners said new wells are costly.

“It can cost $15,000 to $20,000,” said Meeks.

OES fire warden Dale Skiles said only one elderly homeowner is using the well loan program. Homeowners can apply on the county’s website.

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