The Kings County Board of Supervisors discussed the status of environmental studies stalling construction of the Kettleman City water treatment plant Tuesday with district engineers. The plant's opening is now pushed back to 2019 instead of opening earlier this year.

District engineer Joe McGahan said field research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — which began this summer — continues in the area where the plant is scheduled to be built.

Researchers are monitoring endangered species — namely the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Tipton giant kangaroo rat and rare plants — to ensure they are not affected by construction of the plant. The research will be complete by the end of summer.

The environmental research, coupled with difficulty in securing grant funding for construction, has pushed the plant completion date to early 2019. The board initially planned to have the plant in operation by earlier this year.

In an effort to address the shortage of usable water, Kettleman City residents currently receive free bottled water through funding by Chemical Waste Management and state grants.

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