From massive golf courses on the west to mobile homes in poor conditions in the east, the cross-valley disparities have been evident for decades. When it comes to access to clean water, the story is no different.
Castulo Estrada is vice-president of the Coachella Valley Water District. Along with several non-profits and mobile home owners, Estrada helped launch the disadvantaged community’s infrastructure task force in 2016 with the hope of fixing some of the issues that affect the east valley community. Especially access to clean, potable water.
“We’ve been working for a while now on trying to address the lack of infrastructure in the eastern parts of the Coachella Valley,” Estrada said.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia is working with the community and state legislature to pass Assembly Bill 2060 and Assembly Bill 2056. The former, also known as the advanced water payments, hopes to help gain more funding to improve water infrastructure and access to clean water. Estrada said he think this bill could help speed up future projects.
“We have about 10-thousand people that we are approximating that rely on private wells and private septic tanks,” Estrada said. “On the water side some of these wells are not meeting the federal nor the state standards for water that is considered safe to drink.”
Assembly Bill 2056 is intended to help with grants “to acquire or rehabilitate a mobile home park where no less than 30% of residents are low income.”
“Prior to this bill there were specific rules as to how the money trickles down from the state when you do qualify for a project,” Estrada said. “All these projects that are needed in the east side are completely funded, if not close to 100% funded by grants.”
Some of those projects would include extending water lines, so the community can have access to public wells rather that private ones.
This issue hits close to home for Estrada because he lived in Oasis, an unincorporated area in the Coachella Valley, for a couple years when he was a child…
“What’s interesting is that if i go back there today, it looks the same, no improvements,” he said.
Most of the people who live in those unincorporated areas are farm workers, whom Estrada describes as a hardworking community but also as one that is often forgotten. While there is still work to do, Estrada remains hopeful about the improvement of the east valley.
“I feel that with this type of work that we are doing and with these types of bills are going to allow for the east side to develop,” he said.
Governor brown has until September 30, 2018 to sign these bills.