New Water Transmission Line Plans for Eastern Coachella Valley

Carmela Karcher

“This is an environmental injustice and we cannot allow it to continue,” Representative Raul Ruiz said.

Many people in the East Valley have been saying this for decades, and finally on Friday, a concrete plan is in place.

For decades, some communities in Thermal, with children and hard-working families, have not had consistent access to clean drinking water.

This week, the EPA has added an additional four neighborhoods to that list.

But now, there’s some hope.

Representative Raul Ruiz met with the Coachella Valley Water District to highlight the project meant to improve access to clean drinking water.

In the conference, Dr. Ruiz said he finally secured $2.7 million in federal funding to begin construction on a new water transmission line.

The communities here are under-served and the current water supply is unreliable and extremely contaminated with arsenic.

Dr. Ruiz says it can cause severe long term health effects for those who drink it.

“As a physician, I know that it can affect a human’s health and a child’s ability to learn and develop cognitively, and therefore, could lead to poor testing and poor school performance. So, this is why it’s so important.”

Just miles away from undrinkable water, there are plans for a beach club resort.

There’s concern this could take water away from those who need it the most.

But, CVWD Vice President Cástulo Estrada says that shouldn’t be a concern.

He says the water comes from different sources.

“If I felt in any way that projects like surf parks or golf courses were in any way taking away from our ability to do what we are trying to do here, I would certainly bring that issue up and I would certainly be against it, but that is not what I’m seeing,” Estrada explained.

And while getting clean water to these communities will take some time, Dr. Ruiz is excited.

“Clean drinking water is a common good and is a human right and we need to ensure that everybody in our nation has clean drinking water,” Dr. Ruiz said.

The plan is to put the 5 mile transmission line on Avenue 66.

Dr. Ruiz said even after this project is officially underway, he promises to keep the pressure up with the federal government to speed-up the process.

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