Kettleman City residents get answers to questions about construction of water treatment plant

KETTLEMAN CITY, Calif. (KFSN) -- For years families in Kettleman City have had drinking water that's been filled with arsenic and benzene-- two dangerous chemicals.

"I have a daughter-- a little one that's still brushing her teeth with contaminated water, taking a bath in contaminated water," said Maricela Mares-Alatorre, Kettleman City.

Alatorre hasn't been able to drink water out of the faucet since she was a little girl.

"Kettleman City has had bad water for decades."

Bad water that is contaminated with arsenic that's more than 10 parts per million and because of that the state has declared it unsafe to drink. It also has benzene in it-- another harmful chemical.

Alatorre said for at least six years the state has promised to build a water treatment plant. The latest promise was to have it online by fall of 2016. It would treat water from a nearby aqueduct offering residents a permanent solution to a long overdue problem.

"And here we are now, and there's no progress on it yet. So people want answers."

Wednesday night they got their answers when about 30 residents faced the State Water Resources Control Board with their concerns. Tricia Wathen works for the agency and told us what has delayed the process on the plant.

"When they went to construction there were some environmental concerns. So an environmental assessment had to be completed before we could go to construction."

State Water Resources Control Board spokesman Andrew Diluccia said that assessment is now complete and it's just a matter of finalizing the funding.

"Once that's executed and finalized, then it is up to the water district here, Kettleman City Community Services Water District here, to go out and bid, find a contractor to construct the service water treatment plant."

Kettleman City Community Services District said if everything runs on time, it plans to break ground on the $9-million plant by next spring. But until it's done, residents will have to continue drinking bottled water.
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