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As Water Cut Details Trickle In, African Americans Get Set

By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

The harsh drought that has dried up the Golden State over the past three years has severly hit one California community particularly hard. Allensworth, the historic and only town founded, financed and governed by African Americans in Tulare County knows all too well the impacts of no rain,  coupled with the contamination of city’s ground water supply by arsenic, the shortage of the water crisis is a blunt one-two punch for the town of a little more than 60,000 people.

Residents of the rural, mostly migrant community began receiving drought relief food early last summer and in January the state began delivering 48 gallons of drought relief water to households each month.

Denise Kadara, one of Allensworth’s few black residents, said the situation is dire but it could be worse.

“I know you have heard of East Porterville where a lot of the wells have gone dry,” she said. “We aren’t experiencing that yet. Our water systems are so old that they break. We just had a break in our system about six weeks ago, but luckily we had bottle water. Otherwise, we would have been 12 hours without water.”

Kadara’s East Porterville reference compares her city to the other Tulare County town where more than 1,000 private wells residents depended on for their water supply have completely dried up.

In response to the state’s record-breaking drought – the worst in more than 60 years according to experts – Governor Jerry Brown issued the first-ever statewide restrictions on water use on April 1. What effect the water reduction mandate will have on African-American communities is still yet to be determined.

Kadara, a member of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board stresses that even without all the details of the Governor’s plan, communities need to be mindful of the ongoing dry spell, which has been sapping California’s water supply since 2012.

“If it is affecting us – any of the communities where African Americans live and are disadvantaged,” she said.

According to Brown, the goal of the restrictions is to reduce water use in the state by 25 percent or 1.5 million acre-feet. The restrictions call for school campuses, golf courses and cemeteries to make significant cuts in water use; prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used; create a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program for residents who replace older appliances with water-saving and energy-efficient models; and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

In order to carry out the governor’s initiative, the California Water Resources Control Board has begun putting together a “Drought Emergency Water Conservation” plan that dictates communities’ water conservation targets based on an area’s track record of saving water and levels of usage.

A recent draft of the water board’s plan given to California Black Media by board spokesperson Andrew DiLuccia said water suppliers that recorded the lowest residential per-capita water use in July, August and September of last year will have to cut by only eight percent. Communities with the highest per-capita numbers during that period have to lower consumption by 36 percent.

According to the board’s 11-page, provisional chart titled “Urban Water Suppliers and Proposed Regulatory Framework Tiers to Achieve 25% Use Reduction”, some areas with a strong African-American presence in terms of population are in the low-end and middle tier of the water reduction plan. Compton in Southern California, for example, has to cut water usage by eight percent and nearbyInglewood by 12 percent.

San Diego, Vallejo and Long Beach have to slim their usage by 16 percent. The East Bay area, which includes Oakland and Richmond, has to trim its consumption down to 18 percent. The city of Los Angeles has to cut its water use by 20 percent and Sacramento’s goal is  set at 28 percent.

The proposal could change before the board formally adopts it early next month, insiders say,  but the tracking compliance will begin in July when the June numbers are reported. After that, it will perform monthly checks on the more than 400 urban water suppliers that have to comply with the order. A fact sheet from the State Water Resources Control Board said all water suppliers will need to do more to meet the 25 percent conservation standard.

“Conserving water more seriously now will forestall even more catastrophic impacts if it does not rain next year,” that document reads.

On April 23, a bill authored by Assembly member Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino), a member of the California Black Caucus, passed  by a vote of 78-0. In an effort to support Californians who choose to preserve water, Assembly Bill 1 protects property owners who do not water their lawns from being fined by municipalities.

Brown said since California is in a drought, it is irresponsible for cities to penalize residents for conserving water.

“If California is going to manage its water resources efficiently,” she said, “then we cannot fine individuals for doing their part.”

Aubrey Bettencourt, executive director of the California Water Alliance in Hanford, said the water reductions present an opportunity for California  to set the bar for the rest of the country on how to manage important natural resources.

“It’s a wake-up call to what water provides us,” she said. “Whether the governor can achieve his goal, I don’t know. But at the very least he has woken up the California public to the benefits of what water provides.”

Bettencourt said water talks need to center on how to bounce back from the drought and how to take steps to  make sure it never happens again. Not on the restrictions.

“How are we going to upgrade our infrastructure to meet 21st century demand and 21st century social priorities?” she said. “And how do we get our policies up to date so that is does two things. One is recovering our existing supply. Also, how are we going to update our policies to manage our water?”

As the details of the governor’s plan firm-up, its business as usual for companies in African-American populated areas although they  seem prepared to adapt to the realities of the water cuts.

Larry Tabeling, the owner of Live Art Plantscape, a commercial landscape contract company in the Los Angeles area said outside of reduced water mandates instructed by Brown there has been no finalization of how each city will reduce its water consumption to a certain percentage.

“We don’t even know what days we can water yet, if it is going to be restricted more from where we are at currently or what” he said. “So, a lot of stuff is still up in the air.”

McDonald’s is proud to announce the Community Choice Youth Award is back this year


McDonald’s 365Black Awards launched in 2003 as an extension of the company’s 365Black platform, which celebrates the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year-round. Join them in celebrating today’s exceptional youth by nominating someone between the ages of 13 and 18 within your community to receive a $10,000 scholarship.

They’re looking to honor exceptional youth who make a difference within their community through their vision, compassion, relentless courage and daily diligence which have resulted in significant local, national or global impact. Two recipients, one male and one female, will be recognized during the star-studded event which will be held Friday, July 3 during the 21st annual ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans.

The purpose of the CCYA Scholarship is to assist the honoree to obtain a higher education or vocational skill at the school of his or her choice. If the recipient does not attend college or has sufficient alternate funding to attend college, then the $10,000 must be transferred to the honoree at the legal age of majority without the condition of a college attendance. However, at the honorees discretion, the scholarship can be applied against graduate or trade school tuition, fees and direct education expenses. All applicable taxes will be responsibility of the honoree.

All students nominated for this Program must meet the minimum criteria set by McDonald’s to qualify for the scholarship. The Scholarship will be applied to pay tuition and fees at any college or vocational school that the honoree is enrolled based on enrollment criteria recommended by Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Funds will be held until the recipient provides official proof of enrollment and then paid directly to the college, post-secondary school or any trade, vocational, technical school of choice for tuition and fees on behalf of the student.

Download the nomination form at www.365Black.com, starting April 21, 2015. Submit nomination materials to 365BlackYouthAwards@365Black.com until May 31, 11:59 p.m. CST.

Nominee must be able to travel on Wednesday, July 1st and must attend the 365Black Awards, Friday, July 3.


“Let’s Be Honest…. Sometimes…!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Sometimes, God seems inattentive, like He can’t hear us, like He’s not listening, like He doesn’t care. Sometimes, God seems uncooperative. Sometimes, it seems He is actually fighting against us and making it impossible for us to do what we think He is calling us to do. Sometimes, we feel helpless in grief, struggles and failures. Sometimes, we feel that God has abandoned us. So what do we do in times like these? What do we do in our lonely moments? Should we give up on God and go our own way? Should we let our emotions take over? Should we plunge into despair? Well, in Scripture, God gives us some directions for the waiting room. (1) Trust the one who is in charge! “Though the Lord slay me, still will I trust him. (2) Stay close… Don’t desert the waiting room. That is where you are most likely to hear from God. (3) Pray…  Get alone with God for a time of reflection, evaluation, correction, and dedication. (4) Be still… and wait!  (5) Anticipate God’s response, Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

I tell you everybody goes through something and at times feel like God has abandoned them. John’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus and three of his friends: Lazarus, his sisters Mary and Martha. There came a time when this family had a need. Lazarus was sick. He was so sick, in fact, that his sisters sent messengers to Jesus and asked him to come right away to help Lazarus. Lazarus was dying. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, He stayed, where he was, to begin with, for two days {John 11:5-6}. What a curious statement – Jesus loved them, so He decided NOT to go help them right away. When Jesus finally did arrive, both Martha and Mary confronted him. “Lord, if only You had been here! You could have saved our brother!” What they were saying was, “Jesus, why did you delay? Why didn’t you come on time? Why are you late? Why didn’t you come when you could have done something to save our family? “If only you had been here!”

Sometimes I struggle to remember that it’s good to wait for the Lord. It isn’t easy. It goes against the grain of our quick-fix society. From our perspective, we have everything figured out and we want God to move within our timeframe. But can I tell you that God rarely does things according to our timeframe; matter of fact, in Isaiah 55:8, God lets us know that “His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.” So with that in mind, let us be persuaded that God is in control of the timing and intensity of our trials. Let us realize that He has a specific purpose for each trial in life. Let us understand that each trial is designed to meet a specific need that God sees in our lives. Let us accept that our waiting period is going to result in our own good if we respond in faith. Let us discover how each trial can strengthen our faith by proving that we can depend on the Lord for all of our needs. We must be convinced that God will walk us through every step of our trial. We must have faith that by His grace and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, we will not only survive, but we will also conquer in our trials.

Trust that God has a reason for your waiting, and submits yourself to whatever He desires to teach you.”  For in the waiting room, God gave Job a new perspective, one he would never have had if he had abandoned the waiting room. The waiting room drove Job to the very feet of God where he discovered a new nearness, a new intimacy, a new dimension of his relationship with God he would have never known otherwise.  So if you find yourself in God’s waiting room… Trust Him, Stay Close, Pray, Be Still, and get ready for some wonderful discoveries. Start declaring: what a God! For right around the corner is another day. A day when you’ll be surprised! A day when you’ll be awe-struck… A day when you’ll realize – when you’ll know, that you know, that you know that God’s waiting room is a means of experiencing His peace, His prosperity, and His power. Keep hoping, trusting, believing in God and wait for that appointed time in faith patiently. There‘s a hidden benefit in waiting. The soul is revived and the Spirit is renewed. (Is. 40:31) “I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint. The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies bout the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.” {Habakkuk 2:1-3}

May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him are the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen!

Some Bible Verses about God’s Timing: Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 27:14; Ecclesiastes 3:1; Galatians 6:9; Psalm 37:3-4; Lamentations 3:25-26; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Genesis 18:14; Psalm 46:10; Micah 7:7; Acts 1:7; Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 55:8-9; John 14:18; Psalm 121:7-8; Phil 4:19…