Failing water systems throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley will get a $15 million boost thanks to the efforts of state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Sanger Democrat.

“Access to clean drinking water is one of the main reasons why I chose to run for office,” Hurtado said in a news release Monday. “One million-plus people don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water, and this issue disproportionately affects my community. … ”

Picture of Melissa Hurtado

“It truly was an all-encompassing effort recognizing that an economy that leaves an entire region behind isn’t a sustainable economy, and it starts with our most basic human needs – access to clean drinking water.” — State Sen. Melissa Hurtado

Stratford Among Several Communities With Water Woes

Hurtado cited the plight of residents in the Kings County farming community of Stratford as an example of the Valley’s failing water systems.

In August 2018, both of Stratford’s wells failed, leaving families and children without potable water. Until the wells were fixed, the Stratford Public Utility District handed out free bottled water. But residents still lacked water for bathing and flushing toilets. And schools had to bring in portable restrooms for students.

Hurtado Cites Leadership by Newsom, Atkins

“We could not have accomplished this alone,” Hurtado said. “The leadership from Gov. Gavin Newsom to Senate Leader Toni Atkins have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to uplift underrepresented communities.

“Moreover, local community leaders and activists dedicated countless hours to elevating the issues to a state and federal level. It truly was an all-encompassing effort recognizing that an economy that leaves an entire region behind isn’t a sustainable economy, and it starts with our most basic human needs – access to clean drinking water.”

Projects That Will Be Funded

Here is how the funding is allocated:

  • $2.5 million for temporary water tanks for households in communities like Porterville and Stratford that have dry wells.
  • $3 million for the city of Sanger to repair a water tank and a well.
  • $1 million to connect Tombstone to Sanger’s centralized water system.
  • $2.5 million for a new water and tertiary treatment plant for Tulare County.
  • $1 million to repair water systems in Fresno and Tulare counties to improve water access in communities like Orosi and Del Rey.
  • $1.5 million for a storm drain, groundwater recharge, and a multi-use canal trail in Selma.
  • $1 million to replace a well in Dinuba.
  • $2.5 million to bring communities into compliance with safe drinking water standards and remove arsenic from water in communities like Alpaugh and Arvin.

The proposals are included in this year’s budget bill, AB 74, which is on the governor’s desk.

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