Officials Vote to Disband Compton Water District

After years of drinking and bathing in foul, discolored water, Compton residents are finally getting a reprieve. On Wednesday, the county’s special district monitor voted to disband the troubled Sativa Water District once and for all, saying it had failed in its promise to deliver clean and reliable water to residents.

The vote by the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission was unanimous and met with instantaneous applause. It follows the filing of a class-action lawsuit against the water district and intense lobbying efforts by county supervisors Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“For too long, government — at all levels — has allowed Sativa to operate without sufficient oversight,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement Tuesday. “The county is willing to step up to facilitate the changes that are necessary to promote the public health and well-being of Sativa customers.”

The smelly, brown water that Sativa was delivering to its 1,600 customers was only the agency’s most visible problem. Sativa also faced accusations of mismanagement and nepotism, as well as claims it hired paid shills to voice support for the agency at community meetings.

Sativa had come close to disbandment before. The agency successfully rebuffed efforts at dissolution in 2005 and 2012. Eventually, however, the sight and smell of putrid water became too much for the agency to bear.

In a last ditch effort to save his district, interim general manager Thomas Martin pleaded with county officials to give Sativa more time to fix its aging infrastructure. By that point, the district had clearly lost too much trust.

Compton residents’ water woes aren’t over. Not by a long shot. Now the long and complex process of dissolution and replacement begins. 


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