By Keli James, PR communications coordinator
The Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a Fresno-based advocacy organization seeks a court order requiring the city of Tulare to supply water to the Matheny Tract community, a 300-home rural subdivision south of the city.
The lawsuit responds to a grievance the city filed in June against the Matheny Tract Committee, Tulare County and Pratt Mutual Water Company (PMWC) to change an agreement to supply water, according to The Fresno Bee.
“It’s a disadvantaged community,” said Leadership Counsel lawyer Ashley Werner. “This is a basic human rights issue.”
Although California paid $4.9 million to lay a water main in the county, no water has flowed to the community. Tulare County and PMWC currently provide water to the Matheny Tract. However, the water exceeds allowable arsenic levels leading many residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Residents express frustration after nearly two years without a viable water supply.
“It’s like they have us as dolls, playing with us,” resident Reinelda Palma told The Fresno Bee.
The city wants to form a joint powers agreement or equivalent with the county to work outside city jurisdiction and sell the water wholesale to another entity that would handle water meters and billing.
In 2013, RCAC provided a $1.9 million revolving line of credit to PMWC to install the new water distribution system. Self Help Enterprises, Inc. assisted PMWC with the state and RCAC funding applications. At that time, the city agreed to operate and maintain the system after the project was completed.