Efforts to bring clean water to Tulare County


Members of the Environmental Protection Agency toured parts of the Valley, in hopes of getting a closer look at just how bad people's drinking water is.

The water coming out of the faucet may look clean, but Seville resident Rebecca Quintana says it's filled with unhealthy levels of nitrates and bacteria.

Rebecca Quintana said, "We don't have that luxury of just turning on the water and being able to drink or cook."

Quintana spends about fifty dollars a month on bottled water. Depending on the time of year, the school district shells out between three and five hundred.

"In a small district, 500, 100 dollars is a lot of money."

During a brief meeting at Stone Corral Elementary School Wednesday night, residents shared their concerns with Environmental Protection Agency officials.

Back in 2010, people living in Seville were told plans were underway to build new pipes and fund a new water storage tank. But, Laurel Firestone with the Community Water Center, a Visalia based advocacy group, says getting the proper funding has proven to be a slow process.

Laurel Firestone said, "There's been planning grants that have been applied for; there's been a lot of back and forth. There's an emergency grant that came in to help fix the pumps, so a little bit of progress has been made, but at the end of the day, the community still doesn't have safe drinking water."

EPA officials say while they understand peoples' concerns, the equipment needed to make Seville's water supply cleaner is too expensive.

To overcome those obstacles, they are now looking at ways to either find better technology that's cheaper, or have the rural communities band together and form one regional water system.

Jared Blumenfeld said, "It's a big issue for EPA. The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress nearly forty years ago and it's our job to make sure that every American has safe, affordable drinking water."

EPA officials say they will share the information they gathered with State and Federal officials. By September, they hope to release more funding to places like Seville in order to jump start whatever plan they come up with.

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