On the second day of his two-day tour through the San Joaquín Valley, EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld visited the east Tulare County communities of East Orosi and Seville.
Standing in the driveway of an East Orosi home, Blumenfeld listened to the personal stories of community residents like Berta Díaz, in pink, who has fought for more than a decade for clean drinking water.
“I have fought with mis compañeros for eleven years, and we have not seen any change in this very contaminated water,” Díaz said.
“We are not complaining, we’re simply telling you our reality,” said Jesus Quevedo, pictured at right, as he described the health struggles of family and friends who have been sickened by the poor water.
“I’ve been having to growing up not being able to drink my tap water, which I think is something that’s not really right,” said Jessica Mendoza, 16, pictured above, at left. “All I’m asking for is just a change, because it is not just for my generation, but generations that are yet to come.”
From there, Blumenfeld traveled to Stone Corral Elementary School, where he addressed residents, including Rebecca Quintana, pictured below.
“I really wanted him to visually see what really exists,” Quintana said after the short community forum. “There is a difference between hearing and seeing. I actually wanted him to see with his own eyes what communities and their infrastructure look like.”
Hearing about residents’ personal struggles to access clean drinking water, and seeing their determination to bring potable water to their communities, seemed to leave an impact on Blumenfeld, pictured below.
“You can read statistics,” he said. “But when you meet someone with a name and a face and a child and a house – it is definitely why we all do this job. Our job is to protect human health and the environment.”
That was the reaction María Herrera, of the Community Water Center, was hoping for.
“Anyone can read about the problem… but it is one thing to read it, and it is another thing to be able to come to the actual communities that are impacted by the issue and hear directly from residents,” she said. “That makes a huge difference.”
Read more about Blumenfeld’s tour:
- Harvesting Health: EPA visit highlights Valley’s health, environmental issues
- Stockton Record: EPA plan keeps Valley front, center
- Merced Sun-Star: EPA gives milliosn to clean Central Valley’s air
All photos by Daniel Cásarez, Vida en el Valle.