Tension boils over at Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting about Northeast Fresno water

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Rusty water and politics came to a boil Tuesday with the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. A discussion about the corrosive water problems in Northeast Fresno divided the supervisors and lead to gavel pounding exchanges.

Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas asked for the briefing on the rusty water problems in Northeast Fresno.

"We know this has elevated itself to the level wherein multiple political campaigns, we've been hearing this discussed. So I thought it was prudent to bring this up to clarify what our role is."

While three of the five supervisors expressed reservations about getting involved in a city matter, Supervisor Henry Perea, who's running for mayor of Fresno and has made rusty water a campaign issue, was eager to wade in.

"Thank you Supervisor Borgeas for bringing this issue to our board. Because I do agree with you, this is an issue that is important and significant to this entire community."

But as Perea continued, Board Chairman Buddy Mendes tried to end the discussion.

"So I'd like to just cut this off," said Mendes.

Perea replied, "No, I'm sorry, we are going to have a discussion."

Supervisor Borgeas accused Perea of politicizing the issue, but Perea reminded him he brought it up. Mendes then tried to shut them both up.

"You are the one that made the statements, and you are the one that put it into political context," said Perea.

"No, I put it into context," replied Borges.

"Okay, let's just, Hey! (pounding gavel) This isn't even in our jurisdiction," said Mendes.

Perea went on and said, "Cuz there's 37 homes tested above .15 level of lead contamination by the federal guidelines and another 40--"

"And it's still going on. Chairman, either--," replied Borgeas.

"Hey, (pounds gavel) I just want to stop this," said Mendes.

Health Department Director Dave Pomaville was able to tell the board that children and pregnant women in homes with discolored water should drink bottled or filtered water. And when residents showed the board their discolored water, Mendes reacted.

"Hang on. You guys don't even know what the hell bad water is. Go live out in the county," he said. "Do you want to talk about it. No, I don't want to see your water, I can take you to Riverdale and show you some (expletive) water too."

Like the water, the point of all this wasn't clear. Borgeas and Mendes support Perea's opponent in the Mayor's race, city council member Lee Brand, who's been defending the city's handling of the water problems. Perea's been accusing Brand of not doing enough to deal with the problem.
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