COMPTON (CBSLA) — It was a packed house at an evening town hall meeting in Compton Wednesday, as residents sounded off on water department representatives who claim the brown water coming out of their taps is perfectly fine to drink.
“This looks like urine, and it’s coming out of all the sinks,” incredulous Compton resident Ricardo Calderon told CBS2 News as he held a large container of water that, no matter the color, was definitely not clear.
“You think we’re supposed to drink this?” asked Calderon. “This is nonsense, and we get charged a lot of money.”
Fellow Compton resident Gennie Camargo fears for her kids, as do they.
“I have two kids, a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. They’re scared to shower,” said Camargo. “They’re scared to wash their hands, brush their teeth because they see the water, and it’s brown.”
Despite the concerns, a representative with the Sativa County Water District, the utility serving the area of Compton and nearby Willowbrook neighborhood, said the coloring is a result of a routine process called “flushing.” Four times a year, the district flushes large amounts of water to remove the buildup of minerals and sediment from inside the water pipes. Sometimes, the sediments end up in the water people get at their homes.
“This problem can only be solved through an infrastructure upgrade,” said Maria Garza with SCWD. “Our pipes are 70 and 80 years old. We’re doing the best we can.”
The Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health told the audience present Wednesday they had tested the water and found no bacteria in the samples, adding that there is no health or safety threat.
Garza said the district has a water program for residents while they flush out the system.
Still, residents are demanding clean water now.
“We asked them, too, ‘Would you drink the water?'” said Camargo. “They all said ‘no.’ So why are they saying it’s safe and they want us to drink it? That’s not fair.”
The water district has information for affected residents on its website.