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Clean Water Coming: Troubled Compton Water System Getting Overhaul

COMPTON (CBSLA) – After years of complaints about dirty water, beginning Monday the beleaguered Sativa Water District is undergoing a massive overhaul in the hopes of giving residents access to clean water again.

Clean Water Coming: Troubled Compton Water System Getting Overhaul
L.A. County Public Works crews begin work to overhaul the troubled Sativa Water District. July 22, 2019. (CBS2)

Sativa -- which serves an estimated 6,800 residents in Compton and Willowbrook -- is undergoing a "deep cleaning," Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas announced last week.

The first of the three phases of the renovation will run through Sept. 22, but the entire process could take up to a year.

"We're not looking for a band-aid solution here, we're looking to fix the problem," Steven Frasher with the L.A. County Department of Public Works told CBS2 Monday.

The work will require temporarily connecting Sativa to neighboring water district Liberty Utilities to try and mitigate any disruptions.

LACDPW has been running Sativa since November 2018 when the state ordered the troubled water district be dissolved. After taking over, LACDPW discovered possible contamination in one of the wells.

The new cleanup effort includes installing a new filtration system and adding new water lines.

"These solutions will be implemented over three phases that will effectively enhance the water system's overall resiliency and end the legacy of brown water that has plagued the Sativa Water District," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

The work will be done overnight in order to minimize service disruptions.

The issues began in April 2018, when Sativa customers began complaining that brown water was running through their taps.

At the time, water district officials argued that they have an aging infrastructure and alleged that the discolored water was safe to drink, stating that it was simply the result of a process of flushing the district's 80-year-old pipes as part of a new program to remove mineral and sediment buildup. The flushing process is done four times a year.

In June 2018, the Sativa Water District board of directors suspended general manager Maria Rachelle Garza over allegations that she had hired fake supporters for a town hall meeting.

In July 2018, the California Local Agency Formation Commission voted unanimously to begin dissolution proceedings for the Sativa Water District.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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