Today, "slabbers," call this vast stretch of desert home, and each winter, RVers by the tons come and join them, squatting for free at Slab City. But that all may come to a halt, due to water. Actually, the lack thereof.
Like the rest of much of California, Slab City is in the middle of the big drought. There hasn't been a regular source of drinking water on the slabs since the Marines abandoned the site, but squatters and visitors could always rely on the Chamber of Commerce in the nearby bustling metropolis of Niland to allow free fill-ups at the office water tap. Sad to say, the free water tap is closed. Other sources in town are likewise drying up, and water is getting pretty scarce.
For visiting RVers, this matter is simply more of a "make better plans" issue. If you plan on visiting the slabs, be sure to come in with plenty of drinking water, or plan on making a trip out to Calpatria, or even Brawley, 20 minutes of road time or more, one way, to fill up again.
For more "permanent" residents of the slabs, this could turn into a disaster. Many of the folks who call Slab City a year-around home, are there, often not out of a great deal of choice, but out of need. Look to see homeless veterans, disabled folks, and some whose health conditions have tossed them a tough bone to gnaw on. Yes, there's water that can be drawn from a nearby canal, but without appropriate (and safe) equipment to treat the water, health problems for those who drink it are a sure bet.
We've reached out to the Niland Chamber of Commerce for their comments, but as of press time, haven't heard back. Will update you when (and if) we get more information.
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