East Orosi families discuss plans to connect to clean water for the first time in a decade

For as long as they can remember, families in East Orosi have lived with contaminated wells, forced to drink and cook with bottled water every day. For the first time, state officials presented a long-term solution to the community, proposing to connect to a neighboring district.

Clean drinking water is a basic human right, but in East Orosi, it's a privilege families haven't had in over a decade.

"We haven't been able to drink there for as long as I can remember. The last time I remember drinking water there was from the water hose when we were little kids playing outside," said Cynthia Ruiz.

Cynthia Ruiz along with 700 other neighbors have been living with nitrate contamination. Records show the water in their water system contains levels that exceed the maximum containment level. Nitrates are especially toxic to young children and pregnant women. Regularly distributed bottled water has been the long-term fix.

"This is the first time they're talking about a real solution, it was really just let's just give them water in a bottle," said Ruiz.

The State Water Resources Control Board held a public meeting to announce their alternative Monday. They believe East Orosi should connect with the neighboring Orosi Public Utility district. The new infrastructure, including a well and piping, would be covered by grants.

"This is a big deal, this will be a long-term solution for East Orosi, and a long-term solution that is a permanent solution," said Chad Fischer, the Tulare District Engineer.

It's too early to anticipate how much water rates would increase. Even if the project were approved by the two water districts, it would take another three to five years for completion.

"What makes me feel good is that the state has come down to listen to the concerns," said Carmen Moreno who lives in the affected area.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.