Lead Story Local News West Edition

County takes steps to fix infrastructure in Sativa Water District

COMPTON — After decades of neglect by its previous operator, the water system serving some 6,800 residents of Compton and Willowbrook will receive a deep cleaning and emergency tie-in to a neighboring water district.

The work is being carried out over the summer by the Sativa Water System’s current administrator, Los Angeles County Public Works, as part of the county’s multipronged effort to overhaul the agency’s water infrastructure and financial management.

“Having access to clean and clear water is a basic human right and one that we are committed to providing Sativa’s customers,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who pushed for state officials to appoint the Public Works Department as Sativa’s interim administrator last October after decades of mismanagement by the water district’s previous leadership caused episodes of brown water flowing from taps. 

“No one said this would be easy. But we are committed to course-correcting and making sure Sativa customers are in good hands for the long-term.”

Since October, county officials have been working to combat occasional spikes in brown water that are the result of poorly maintained water infrastructure, while also taking care of the district’s most urgent administrative and infrastructure needs. 

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Janice Hahn to pour more resources into Sativa Water District after the Public Works Department identified the extent of challenges facing Sativa and the level of support required to stabilize the water system and begin providing a more reliable source of clean and clear water to its customers in Willowbrook and Compton until a long-term service provider can take over.

“Now that the County of Los Angeles has been operating the water system for several months, we have gained a better understanding of its critical infrastructure needs,” said Los Angeles County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella.

“A state-of-the-art filtration system will be introduced to purge the water supply of the particles that have affected its appearance, and new water lines will be added in strategic locations to improve water circulation. 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.”

This first phase of work will run from through Sept. 15 and includes the addition of an emergency connection to neighboring water company, Liberty Utility. To minimize disruptions in service to customers and to limit the number of brown water spikes that might be experienced as a result of system flushing, the Public Works Department will conduct the work overnight. 

The department also will provide customers with water for drinking, cooking and hygiene in the event of a temporary service disruption.

Sativa customers are encouraged to sign up and receive project updates by phone or via text messages by visiting SativaWD.com.

Ridley-Thomas also praised the state Legislature for approving legislation that will help identify water districts in the state with problems similar to Sativa.

“Access to clean water is a human right, and I applaud Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature for acknowledging this and passing SB 200, which creates a pathway for aiding vulnerable communities across California,” Ridley-Thomas said.

“SB 200 will enable the state to identify water systems that fail, or are in danger of failing, and to provide resources to aid in rehabilitating those water systems and ensuring their customers have an adequate supply of potable water.

“We look forward to partnering with the state to identify ways for SB 200 to support this mission and to defray the significant costs associated with this critical work.”

“Having access to clean and clear water is a basic human right and one that we are committed to providing Sativa’s customers,”

— County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Wave Staff Report