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The City of Corcoran has named one of its oldest neighbors an opponent in an effort to repair the city’s neglected water wells. Despite previous efforts of cooperation, Corcoran leaders continue the march through litigation against Curtimade Dairy. A path that is expensive and unnecessary, the residents of Corcoran deserve a more certain track towards reliable drinking water.

During the height of the drought, the City of Corcoran encountered issues with elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. After years of expert analysis and millions of dollars in legal fees, the city finds itself with a bill for high priced attorneys and wells that are actually clean. Although repeated tests conducted by the city reveal the water is safe, and has cleared neighboring farms, the city leadership is laser focused on litigation to solve their financial choice –to pay for their expensive attorneys or prioritize solutions for their residents. And there are many other solutions –namely the State’s dedication towards providing clean drinking water in SB 200, which prioritizes clean drinking water for communities like Corcoran.

Curtimade is far from a foe in their role to protect our water. The family is a leader in the agricultural community for their progressive work as stewards of the environment. In 2013, the farm was honored with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual environmental award. The award acknowledges significant contributions winning organizations have made to protect the environment and support communities. The dairy embraced renewable energy production in a big way, installing a 719 kW system on three and a half acres of land. The solar installation produces enough electricity to power 130 average American homes per year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 27,000 tons over the 25-year life of the solar panels, which is the equivalent to removing 192 cars from the road annually. No small feat.

The family dairy is monitored through voluntary and state mandated programs. They’ve received environmental certification through the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP).This includes required monitoring and compliance for things like nutrient management for the farm’s crops and emissions into the air. The family farm is also regulated by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board through its Dairy. As far as neighbors go, the Curti’s are the best in town.

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In fact, the Curti family has been neighbors to Corcoran for 105 years and have been located in the same place for the last century. Like many family farms, the Curti’s live, work and raise their families in and around Central Valley communities. Generations ago, the family helped build the Corcoran Catholic Church and continue to do business in the community today. Miro Curti was the first recipient of the Tulare County “Farmer of the Year” award, and his grandson, Ben, along with his brother and their two cousins received the same award in 2005.

Repeated tests conducted by the city reveal the water is safe. Most recently, tests dated August 2019 show further decreases in nitrate levels at or below 10 mg/L. All of the city’s water wells meet the safety standard. As a result, the State Water Board withdrew their involvement.

The facts do not lie. The wells are producing safe drinking water. The family farm is cooperating as strong advocates for protecting water quality. Corcoran leaders need to put aside cumbersome lawsuits and commit themselves to working cooperatively to provide its residents with a safe and sustainable water supply.

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Anja Raudabaugh is CEO of Western United Dairies, the largest dairy trade association in California. She can be contacted at araudabaugh@westernuniteddairymen.com.

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