Editor’s Note: In 1993, the United Nations designated March 22 as “World Day for Water,” a day to raise awareness about the need for clean drinking water and sustainable water development around the world. Access to clean drinking water and sustainable development are both important issues for families living in rural and unincorporated areas of the eastern Coachella Valley. Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation has a long-standing presence in the Coachella Valley and has worked tirelessly to bring clean drinking to families in the east valley. Coachella Unincorporated asked Sergio Carranza, executive director of Pueblo Unido CDC, to give a description of current water issues in the east valley on World Water Day 2015.
SERGIO CARRANZA, Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation
Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation (PUCDC), a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that provides technical assistance, training and education to farmworker and low-income families joins the United Nations for its World Water Day 2015 to raise awareness and celebrate the progress towards creating access to drinking water.
Pueblo Unido CDC is working create access to clean drinking water by using an innovative and cost effective technology, Reverse Osmosis and Coagulation-Filtration, to remove arsenic from the groundwater and to provide clean drinking water to families in the eastern Coachella Valley.
Our first system was implemented in May 2010 as a pilot program at St. Anthony of the Desert, a 95-unit mobile home park located in the unincorporated community of Mecca. Then our second water filtration system was installed at the San Jose Community Learning Center. This system will provide drinking water to the center and to 14 mobile home units.
The Reverse Osmosis water filtration units are installed under the sinks of the mobile home units in order to provide clean drinking water for residents. These same filtration systems have also been installed in 17 Polanco parks, serving an approximate population of 1000 people living in a geological area with high levels of arsenic naturally occurring in the underground water.
We are also continually testing the quality of drinking water to ensure the arsenic levels in the water are below the maximum levels allowed by EPA regulations. Our reporting is submitted to the regulating agencies as part of a comprehensive water quality monitoring program. This program is part of Pueblo Unido CDC’s rural infrastructure emphasis area aimed at addressing the lack of critical infrastructure in the eastern Coachella Valley. A lack of infrastructure has been identified as a major barrier to improving the quality of life in the eastern Coachella Valley.
We are able to make this program a reality through an extensive partnership effort with different local and state agencies. With support from the Coachella Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP), the leading group formed by the valley’s water agencies, we were able to secure funding from the State Department of Water Resources under Proposition 84 to make this program available to Disadvantaged Communities. Pueblo Unido CDC is working with the Coachella Valley Water District, the State Water Board and the Riverside County Environmental Health Department to implement the program.
This collaborative effort is equally supported by the Agua4All campaign, a campaign spearheaded by the California Endowment aimed at increasing children and youth’s access to drinking water through the installation of water bottle filler stations. Recent studies have indicated that drinking water increases a student’s performance at school and addresses the high risks of obesity and diabetes resulting from drinking soft drinks.
These efforts to bring infrastructure and clean drinking water to rural communities will not only improve environmental health conditions but will also create job opportunities and sustainability.