Kettleman City Welcomes New Water Treatment Facility

By on January 2, 2020
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Kettleman City will no longer be plagued by contaminated groundwater thanks to a new $11 million water treatment plant built with state and federal funds. Previously, the community had relied on delivery of replacement drinking water for years.

In December, residents, community leaders, environmental justice groups, and local and state officials, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the plant, which will deliver safe drinking water to more than 1,500 residents.

“Like too many disadvantaged communities across California, Kettleman City has struggled for too long without access to safe, affordable drinking water,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Board. “The residents of Kettleman City deserve credit for advocating for this project, and we’re excited to help bring it to fruition.”

The State Water Resources Control Board, Kettleman City Community Services District (CSD), Self-Help Enterprises and Kings County worked with concerned community members to address unsafe levels of arsenic in the groundwater supply wells and bring residents safe drinking water.

Concerns about the levels of arsenic contamination began in 2006 when the MCL was lowered to 10 micrograms per liter. The lower levels meant many drinking water wells were out of compliance. After speaking with the community, the State Water Resources Control Board determined that bypassing local groundwater and use treated surface water was the best solution.

The water treatment plant takes water directly from the Central Valley Project (California Aqueduct) and treats it before delivering it to hundreds of homes and small businesses in the area. The project was funded by an $8.5 million grant from the SWRCB and $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to the construction funding, the District received $539,620 in emergency grant funding from SWRCB for the purchase and delivery of bottled water to residential customers.

“We have been waiting for this for about 10 years, and right now everyone is so excited to get clean water delivered to us,” said Rosa Maldonado, office manager at the Kettleman City Community Services District. “We’ve had many people come by the office and tell us how excited they are. This is a farm laborer community. If the state wasn’t able to help us, there is no way we would have been able to do this project ourselves.”

While the new water treatment plant is operational, Kettleman City CSD is testing the system through the beginning of 2020, or until it’s confirmed the water is meeting drinking water standards. In the interim, the community will continue using bottled water.

Kettleman City, located along Highway 41 just north of the intersection of Interstate 5, has 350 service connections.