Rebecca Quintana Honored as 2010 Environmental Justice Champion in EPA Region 9 Environmental Awards
Becky Quintana was born and raised by farmworker parents in the rural town of Seville in Northeastern Tulare County, California. Today, she’s a school bus driver who is fighting for her community's access to water that's clean, safe, and affordable. For years, Seville has struggled with an abandoned and dilapidated water system, which often resulted in limited water pressure and bacterial contamination. However, residents weren’t aware that their drinking water, which runs straight through an irrigation ditch, would be unsafe to drink because of high levels of nitrates. Over the past year, Becky has worked with passion and dedication to help residents educate themselves about the safety of their drinking water and the necessary policy-level changes needed to bring safe drinking water to the community. She has advocated at the local, state and regional level for sustainable solutions and better groundwater water protections. In 2009, her efforts as the founder and spokesperson of Committee for a Better Seville led the county to temporarily take over the town’s water system, and more recently, prompted the Regional Water Quality Control Board to investigate the contamination sources. Her efforts have pushed the development of groundwater protection requirements for irrigated agriculture, and provided resources for two pilot studies on how to address nitrate contamination in the Tulare Lake Basin.