Under the blistering Central Valley sun, Filiberta Sanchez and her toddler granddaughter strolled down a Parkwood sidewalk lined with yellow weeds, dying grass and trees more fit for kindling than shade.
"It was very pretty here, very pretty," said Sanchez, 56, as little Jenny crunched a fistful of parched dirt and pine needles she grabbed from the ground. "Now everything's dry."
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post said that the city of Montague lies in Shasta County. It is actually a part of Siskiyou County.
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Parkwood's last well dried up in July. County officials, after much hand-wringing, made a deal with the city of Madera for a temporary water supply, but the arrangement prohibited Parkwood's 3,000 residents from using so much as a drop of water on their trees, shrubs or lawns. The county had to find a permanent water fix.
Parkwood is one of 28 small California communities that have since January cycled onto and off of a list of "critical water systems" that state officials say could run dry within 60 days. Amid the drought that is scorching the state and particularly the Central Valley, the State Water Resources Control Board decided this year, for the first time ever, to track areas on the brink of waterlessness.