Arvin still faces water contamination

Posted at 2:23 PM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 22:51:04-04

Arvin residents and officials will come together Tuesday night at El Camino Real Elementary school to celebrate the steps that have been taken to create a purified water system for the community.

About a decade ago, California water regulations became more strict, making communities like Arvin act quickly to purify their water. Right now, the water that flows through homeowners' sinks, has too much arsenic under state standards, (which is more than 10 parts per billion, according to Arvin Interim General Manager Larry Pennell).

To temporarily fix this problem, officials have created point of use locations, (at places like schools and parks) and bottle stations. Both facilities have special filters that remove the arsenic.

Pennell said the reason for the arsenic in the water is that it naturally occurs in the older wells in the city. He said they are working on finding funding, or a loan to pay for three new wells to be drilled. Then the city would blend the old and the new, more purified, water and send that to people's homes.

"If we can remove one thing they [Arvin residents] have to worry about, that's like a huge victory in my book, and what simpler way to start than by the water they drink," South Kern Community Programs Coordinator Gerardo Tinoco said.

Arvin residents say they've known for more than a decade that the water is bad. Evanjelina Robles moved from Ojai and said the water from her tap tastes slightly odd and smells funny. She bought a water filter system that she uses solely for drinking and cooking purposes.

Robles said in Spanish that she uses the tap for washing hands and showering, and she is concerned for her health as this problem continues, but she doesn't know what the arsenic could do to her.

According to several studies, ingesting large quantities of arsenic over several years could lead to cancer.

For now, many in the community go to bottle stations and point of use facilities to ensure they and their families are healthy.