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Locals call on state lawmakers to fix toxic drinking water

Locals rally at the Liberty Bell in Bakersfield, Calif. calling on state lawmakers to support the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

According to the Community Water Center, more than one million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water a year.

SB-623, the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, aims to decontaminate toxic tap water.

Friday, community members and advocates with the Dolores Huerta Foundation rallied at the Liberty Bell calling on state lawmakers to support it.

" I grew up in Arvin," Jerry Tinoco said. "We struggle with arsenic and 1,2,3-TCP in the water. Those two contaminants can cause various deceases and ailments such as cancer, so it is completely unacceptable that this is going on, he said. "We have all the technology and the know how to clean up the water. It's just a lack of money."

The fund would collect money from a fertilizer mill fee, a fee on dairies, and a fee assessed on water bills of no more than $1 a month per household.

Low-income rate exemptions would be given for households under 200% of the federal poverty level, according to lawmakers.

"It would be very hard for each of us individually to say I’m going to pay to make sure we clean-up our water, so we know we can't do it ourselves," advocate Dolores Huerta said.

Lawmakers anticipated the fund would generate $140 million a year. That money would go to various drinking water clean-up projects throughout California.

“I have worked to bring in millions of dollars to help communities throughout the Valley have safe drinking water,” said Assemblymember Rudy Salas. “I will continue working with all stakeholders and my colleagues to ensure that the proposed Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund fully addresses the need for clean drinking water in the Valley and throughout the state.”

Eyewitness News reached out to Assemblymember Vince Fong about the fund and has not heard back.

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