Name: Rebecca Quintana
Profession: Founder, Committee for a Better Seville
Bluish-green water laced with dangerous nitrates pours from faucets in the small Central Valley farming town of Seville. For years, residents have pleaded with politicians to clean up the water, but little has been done. Enter Rebecca Quintana— a school bus driver turned community activist who is fighting for her community’s access to clean, safe and affordable water.
“Although I spent almost my entire life living in a community with old infrastructure, clogged showers with sand, and water shortages, it was not until I learned that our water was contaminated with nitrates that I decided to find out more about the water issues of the valley,” shared Quintana.
“Through my education, I was able to learn about the root causes of the lack of safe drinking water for local communities. These include lack of prioritization to address the issue, lack of regulatory programs to protect our water sources and poor representation at the local, state and regional level.”
In 2009, Quintana founded, “Committee for a Better Seville.” That led to the county temporarily taking over the town’s water system, and even prompted the Regional Water Quality Control Board to investigate the contamination sources.
Quintana says her efforts show that anyone can make a difference.
“The average Californian needs to be engaged in decision making at the local, state and regional level by voting for the right representation and by working to bring forth new candidates from local communities,” she said. “Additionally, local communities need to band together, help educate other affected communities and hold their elected officials accountable.”
Despite the work of Quintana and members of her community, she estimates that it will be years before the water in Seville is safe to drink.