CUTLER-OROSI – On Aug. 31, East Orosi residents will submit a petition to the East Orosi Community Services District (EOCSD) board at its regularly scheduled meeting, calling for the removal of EOCSD employee Lucy Rodriguez, citing years of abuse, mismanagement of funds and lack of transparency.
“She’s cheated us for years,” an East Orosi resident who asked to remain anonymous told the Times. “She’s threatened to call immigration on people and do other things.”
The resident said East Orosi residents decided to take this action at a meeting held at a local residence on Aug. 24.
Maraid Jimenez is a communications associate with Community Water Center (CWC). CWC has joined with community leaders and Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors) to hold Rodriguez and EOCSD accountable. Vecinos Unidos will submit the petition.
Maraid said the malfeasance at EOCSD has been going on for decades and that CWC first became aware of irregularities 15 years ago. However, Maraid did not identify Rodriguez, saying that CWC will wait until the Aug. 31 meeting before making any public statements regarding EOCSD personnel.
“The person in charge was not making payments to contractors,” Maraid said. “The people emptying septic tanks stopped working because they weren’t being paid. Waste was backing up into bathrooms.”
In an Aug. 24 media alert, CWC wrote that until 2023, East Orosi residents were not sent utility bills via the mail; residents were expected to remember when their bills were due and to pay accordingly. For many residents, this entailed paying their bills in person.
According to the media alert, East Orosi residents “demand East Orosi CSD take action to remove the liable bill collector to restore transparency and ensure needed wastewater projects can continue.”
The Times visited the EOCSD facility in East Orosi where Rodriguez works. It is a trailer located at 41842 Ione Road. A sign behind bars on the windows advised that, effective November 2011, the office would be open on Tuesdays from 2-4 p.m.
TULARE COUNTY RMA
On Oct. 21, 2022, Darrin Polhemus, deputy director of the Division of Drinking Water at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), sent a compliance order to EOCSD Board President Carmen Moreno. The order appointed the Tulare County Resource Management Agency (RMA) as the full-scope administrator of East Orosi’s water system.
According to the statement of facts section of the order, SWRCB found that East Orosi’s water system consistently failed to provide an adequate supply of affordable and safe drinking water. The order included a table that listed nitrate monitoring results from the water system for the years 2010 through 2022. According to the results, most samples over the 12-year period showed nitrate MCLs (maximum contaminant levels) exceeding what would be considered safe levels.
Despite RMA being appointed the water system administrator, East Orosi residents must continue to interact with EOCSD. According to CWC, beginning November 1, 2022, Tulare County assumed responsibility for billing residents for drinking water. But owing to concerns regarding mismanagement and lack of transparency of accounting procedures, particularly with sewer charges, residents must continue to submit wastewater bills to EOCSD.