Last week, the Assembly Budget Committee included in its 2016-17 funding plan $10 million for a grant program to provide filtered water filling stations at more than 100 of the most severely impacted schools – most of which, according to the analysis, are in the state’s Central Valley.
Matheny Tract residents can finally open their taps to clean water. Water in the low-income community south of Tulare has long been contaminated with arsenic, forcing residents to buy bottled water. In March, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered Tulare to merge its water system with Matheny Tract under a new law. At a ceremony Tuesday morning, Reinelda Palma and Tim Denney of the community action group Matheny Tract Committee turned the valve to let the municipal water begin flowing.
Great news! Last week the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee voted to include $41 million in the 2016-2017 California budget to advance the human right to water. But we’re not finished yet! Both houses of the Legislature must come together to agree on the budget’s contents by the June 15 deadline and we have more work to do to make sure these vital investments are included!
Once a month, the residents of Matheny Tract, one of hundreds of poor and largely Latino enclaves tucked deep in California’s Central Valley, gather in the shade of a neighbor’s carport, chihuahuas dozing at their feet. The subject of their meetings is always the same: water. As long as they’ve lived here, the water that comes out of their taps has been contaminated with arsenic and other chemicals; they refuse to drink it, and the very act of taking a shower can make them feel unclean.
A panel featuring experts from the Community Water Center, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, and school stakeholders will discuss: the results from a recent study unsafe water in California schools, recent legislative attempts to address the problem of unsafe and unappealing water in public schools and policy recommendations to address immediate needs, monitor and track the problem, and promote lasting solutions.
More than one million Californians are impacted by unsafe water annually, and over 10,000 Californians have completely run out of water during this drought. “Additional resources are needed beyond what is in the Governor’s budget. That is why we have been working with leadership in both houses on a proposal to increase funding for safe drinking water ” said Laurel Firestone, co-executive director of the Community Water Center. “Californians ultimately need an ongoing source of sustainable funding to secure safe and affordable water, but until that is secured, our communities need immediate investments to meet urgent drinking water needs.”
National Drinking Water Week 2016 was a huge success!! Community Water Center celebrated the week with a series of empowering events throughout the San Joaquin Valley, culminating with a party in Orosi celebrating not only National Drinking Water Week but also the AGUA Coalition's 10th year of water justice activism. We conducted platicas in Arvin, East Porterville, and Fresno to talk to community partners about nitrate contamination, 1,2,3-TCP's impending Maximum Contaminant Level, and local water pilot projects.
Two long summers ago, after Adela Ramos Arellano's pump first began to sputter and wheeze, the 37-year-old field worker would return from a day spent laboring beneath the blazing sun to a home with no water. Since then, "the cavalry," as one onlooker called it, has descended on East Porterville, an unincorporated area in Tulare County that claims about 12% of the state's failed wells. No fewer than nine government agencies and nonprofit organizations have had a hand in helping the community, which drew international media attention for its exceptional suffering in the fourth year of California's drought. But residents and even some government officials say progress has been painstakingly slow, if not altogether ineffectual. Last year, for example, state officials sank $1.2 million into a new well that remains untapped because of quarreling among government agencies.
The state estimates that over a million Californians lack access to safe drinking water. After 15 years with arsenic contamination, one small Kern County community took the struggle for clean water into its own hands--in a campaign that could serve as a role model for others.
Some California public schools have contaminated water supplies containing arsenic, nitrates, and pesticides due to lack of tracking and regulation.