Apr 08, 2008

Lack of Funds Forces California Treatment Plant to Close

Residents in Lanare, Calif., can't afford to keep $1.3 million filtration system in operation

A $1.3 million water treatment plant built to filter arsenic in Lanare, Calif., sits unused because the community of 500 doesn’t have the revenue to run it, the Fresno Bee reported.

In the meantime, residents are still drinking water with high levels of the substance.

The plant was shut down and homes were hooked up to the community’s old pump last summer when the Lanare Community Service District faced a deficit of $96,000 within the first six months of operation in 2007.

Residents pay a flat fee of $46 a month, not enough cover the cost of the new plant’s operation.

In response to a Fresno County grand jury report outlining a number of other problems, one county official said a court-appointed administrator should take over the district, the paper reported.

District officials acknowledge most of the findings, but dispute parts of the report.

Residents now must choose between bottled water or water that does not meet federal health standards.

Ken Souza, a business consultant who became general manager of the service district last August, said he is optimistic that the district will win a federal grant to pay for meters, which could be installed during the first half of 2009.

The community also needs to attract more water customers to help cover the cost of running the plant, he said.

Souza said he is trying to pay off the district's bills, but that will take some time with the current cash flow.