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County commission dissolves Sativa Water District

'Sativa Board members have ignored their responsibilities, abused their positions, and even given themselves bonuses, all while their customers dealt with brown, dirty tap water'

Local Agency Formation Commission votes unanimously to begin dissolution proceedings for the Sativa Water District, which serves about 1,600 customers in Compton and Willowbrook

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has voted in her capacity as a member of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) in favor of a resolution to dissolve the mismanaged Sativa Water District. The vote occurred Wednesday, July 11.

The customers of the water district, which controls water in Compton and Willowbrook, have long complained of dirty, brown tap water. The resolution to dissolve the district, which the supervisor called for in a previous meeting, was unanimously approved.

“[The] vote was for the people,” said Hahn. “Sativa Board members have ignored their responsibilities, abused their positions, and even had the nerve to give themselves bonuses, all while their customers dealt with brown, dirty tap water. Time’s up. We are dissolving this district and focusing our energy on finding a capable, trustworthy agency to take it over.”

In addition to complaints of brown water flowing from taps in the area, the district has been subject of complaints of mismanagement and corruption.

Late Monday, four Compton residents filed a class-action lawsuit against Sativa. The lawsuit, filed at Los Angeles County Superior Court, accuses Sativa of failing to provide quality drinking water, misappropriating taxpayer dollars, and causing a financial burden on its low-income customers in Compton and Willowbrook.

“Sativa mismanaged public funds by failing to use them for the intended purpose of maintaining and improving the water district’s infrastructure for the delivery of potable water,” the lawsuit alleges.

Because the process of dissolving the district and finding a new agency to take over the district may take months, Supervisor Hahn remains concerned about the current administration of Sativa. On July 10, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hahn sent a letter to the State Water Board proposing that L.A. County be appointed as interim administrator of the water district until a long-term agency can be identified.

“The County is prepared to step in to take control of this long-mismanaged water district,” said Hahn. “The leadership of Sativa has proven itself to be incapable and untrustworthy and as LAFCO moves forward to dissolve this district, I am hopeful that the county can provide some needed supervision and stability.”

At the meeting, Hahn asked her colleagues on LAFCO to write a similar letter to the State Water Board backing the proposal to appoint L.A. County as interim administrator. Her motion was coauthored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

“The situation at the Sativa County Water District is completely unacceptable and I am pleased to join Supervisor Hahn and my fellow LAFCO Commissioners in requesting the state to allow the County to act as an interim administrator,” said Barger. “High-quality water is a basic human need. When a current system of governance fails to support that need, it is incumbent upon us to step-in and ensure that need is met.”

The motion to recommend the County as interim administrator passed unanimously.

WATCH: Calif. Agency Votes To Dissolve Troubled Compton Water District

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