Environment, Parks, Libraries

Access to Safe and Affordable Water Statewide

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
On a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund for California

“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.

“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.

“It’s not just rural communities that are impacted by these public health crises. Just last year, Los Angeles County had to step in and tap its Public Works Department to take over the troubled Sativa Water District. We are now implementing a strategy – including an anticipated investment of approximately $8 million – to provide clean, clear and safe water to its 6,800 customers in Compton and Willowbrook for the long term.

“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.”

LA County to Begin Upgrades to Sativa’s Antiquated Water System

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas joins state lawmakers at Sativa headquarters. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

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 will be 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 Public Works as Sativa’s interim administrator in 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 then, County officials have been working to combat occasional spikes in brown water that are the result of poorly-maintained water infrastructure, while also triaging the district’s most urgent administrative and infrastructure needs. Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Hahn to pour more resources into Sativa Water District after Los Angeles County Public Works 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 July 22 – Sep. 15 and includes the addition of an emergency connection to neighboring water company, Liberty Utility. To minimize disruptions in service to customers and limit the number of brown water spikes that might be experienced as a result of system flushing, Public Works will conduct this work overnight. Public Works will also 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.

Landmark Sports and Academic Complex Planned in Carson

Some of the world’s biggest names in sports have teamed up with Los Angeles County to unveil their game plan for building a massive athletic and academic campus for underserved children in South L.A.

The Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus is proposed to be built on a portion of what had been the Victoria Golf Course in Carson – spanning more than 80 acres and featuring up to 52 tennis courts, soccer and multi-purpose fields, and as well as state-of-the-art academic center with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The USTA Foundation – the United States Tennis Association’s charitable arm – and the Tiger Woods-founded TGR Foundation envision offering their programs at the campus at little or no cost to underserved local youth and families.

Rendering courtesy of The Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus “This project brings great potential to transform an underused site into an unrivaled community resource that will benefit not just the South Bay, but the entire region.  Individuals of all ages could be enriched by the recreational opportunities made available at the Kimmelman Campus, and the STEM-based learning opportunities at the TGR Foundation would create an unrivaled educational opportunity for our youth,” said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The project was inspired by the passion and generosity of Carol Kimmelman, a California native who passed away in 2017. A member of the 1983 national champion USC women’s tennis team and former South L.A. elementary school teacher, she believed fervently in the power of tennis and other sports to transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds.

Two years after she lost her battle with cancer, her husband and four children are continuing her mission to make sports and education more equitable by opening this premiere center.

Doug Kimmelman, President of the Kimmelman Family Foundation, said, “Carol was passionate about the potential for children to learn important life lessons both in the classroom and on the tennis court or sports field. This exceptional, cutting-edge complex will be a safe place for young people throughout the region to experience these lessons firsthand, helping them achieve their full potential and opening doors throughout their lives.”

The USTA Foundation foresees establishing the West Coast hub of the National Junior Tennis & Learning program at the campus. NJTL offers tennis programs, youth services and college scholarships to more than 200,000 underserved youth around the country each year.

Additionally, the USTA Southern California Tennis Association intends to move their headquarters to the Campus and USTA’s Player Development division, which works to develop world-class American players, expects to make the campus its West Coast center of operations.

On the academic side, TGR Foundation – founded by golf legend Tiger Woods and his late father, Earl Woods – will oversee the Kimmelman Campus’ expansive 25,000 square foot learning center, which will be equipped with high-tech labs, classrooms, and interactive stations that encourage innovative and hands-on STEM learning.

“My dad helped me launch TGR Foundation over 20 years ago, inspired by our family motto of ‘share and care,’” said Tiger Woods, the philanthropist, entrepreneur and 14-time major champion. “Like Carol Kimmelman, Dad was dedicated to helping young people find their self-worth and confidence and I’m proud and honored to help her legacy live on. TGR Foundation is excited to be part of the Carol Kimmelman Athletic & Academic Campus, where we can continue to spread our mission of empowering students to pursue their passions through education.”

Dynamic tennis programming for children of all ages and abilities will be offered by both the SCTA and the USTA Foundation’s NJTL program on tennis courts spanning 29 acres, allowing more students throughout Los Angeles to grow and learn life lessons through the sport.

“This is the most significant undertaking by the USTA Foundation on the West Coast supporting our mission of combining tennis and education together to change lives,” said Chris Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 who was recently appointed chair of the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “By making high-quality tennis and educational opportunities available to all local children, regardless of income, this campus will provide a transformative experience for thousands of young people that inspires them to succeed both on and off the court.”

Already, the Kimmelman Family Foundation, along with the USTA Foundation, USTA, SCTA, and representatives of TGR have met with school district leaders, local community-based non-profit organizations, law enforcement officials, and business groups to collaborate on programs and opportunities at the Kimmelman Campus.

The County is also reviewing proposed plans for the remaining portion of the project to include other sports and recreation facilities, including up to eight full-sized soccer fields; two multi-purpose fields that can accommodate rugby and other sports; basketball courts; a sprint track; and training turf to promote active and healthy lifestyles for the entire community.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to formally consider a ground lease and associated environmental documents this Summer.

Los Angeles County Prepares to Take Over Sativa Water District

The Board of Supervisors will vote next week on a motion that would authorize the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (DPW) to enter into an agreement with the California Water Resources Control Board to serve as interim administrator of the Sativa Water District, which has struggled over the years to provide clean water to its customers in Willowbrook and Compton.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn filed the motion days after the Governor signed county-sponsored legislation allowing the Water Board to appoint an interim administrator for Sativa until a replacement water service provider can be identified for the long-term.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said DPW is well suited for the role of interim administrator, given its extensive experience operating systems across the County. It currently operates 68,000 service connections, serving approximately 245,000 people.

“Residents of Willowbrook and Compton have had to endure brown water coming out of their taps for years, because of Sativa’s mismanagement,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With DPW in charge, these customers will finally have the competent water service provider they deserve.”

“This is a victory for the people,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “By putting the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works in charge, residents will finally have a capable, trustworthy water provider they can count on. There is a lot more work that needs to be done, but we are in it for the long-haul for the customers of Sativa.”

As interim administrator, DPW would assess the condition of the existing water facilities and identify any necessary and timely improvements to ensure safe drinking water is available to Sativa customers. It will also work closely with the Water Board to ensure that water quality meets all regulatory standards.

When Sativa customers reported brown water running through their taps in April, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas filed an urgency motion to investigate, to prevent public health risks, and to determine whether Sativa leaders are able to properly maintain the system’s 70-year-old pipes. At his direction, the County also distributed about 20,000 gallons of bottled water to Sativa customers.

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in June, the Board endorsed AB 1577, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, which would empower the Water Board to order Sativa to accept administrative and managerial services. In July, the Local Agency Formation Commission of Los Angeles County formally initiated dissolution proceedings over Sativa.

In August, the Board approved a motion reiterating its support for AB1577, but also sought amendments that would allow the interim administrator to have appropriate state funding and as well as appropriate immunities from liability. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1577 on September 28.