Estella Bravo, 78, of Tipton tells her neighbors about the nitrate contaminated water. Official notices don’t get to renters in apartments next door. She’s worried for kids and pregnant women who can’t afford bottled water, so she’s been advocating for two years for the community to receive free bottled water.

Estella Bravo, 78, of Tipton tells her neighbors about the nitrate contaminated water. Official notices don’t get to renters in apartments next door. She’s worried for kids and pregnant women who can’t afford bottled water, so she’s been advocating for two years for the community to receive free bottled water.

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Good afternoon, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Monday, Dec. 14.

Fresnoland will deliver bottled water to Tipton this week. Donate to the effort by clicking here and write “Tipton” in the comments box.

Last week in Fresnoland, Monica wrote about racism and drinking water in Tipton and about the Nation’s Christmas Tree in Kings Canyon National Park; Dympna followed up on the angst of southwest Fresno residents over contamination at the Maxie Parks Community Center; Dayana discussed the connection between air quality and gun violence; and Danielle wrote about the latest court ruling in the quest to build a new city in the foothills above Fresno.

It’s Monica Vaughan, water reporter for Fresnoland, here.

Today I’m asking for your help. But first, let me tell you a story.

The orange tree that Estella Bravo planted in the front yard of her house in Tipton wasn’t producing much fruit one year. On the advice of her priest, she gave away a third of the oranges she did have.

The harvest has been abundant ever since, she told me, and every year people come from surrounding towns to pick fruit off her decades-old tree.

Estella is a leader and caretaker of her community. She distributes food from the food bank to 200 families every week. She’s on the Town Council and the Tipton Beautification Committee. And she’s been trying to get free bottled water for her neighbors.

I met her when traveling through Tulare County with Univision reporter Nathalie Vera.

“It’s been about 20 years that the water’s gotten really bad,” Estella told us when we met outside her house. “They keep looking for places to put wells, but all of them come out negative (contaminated) with arsenic, a whole lot of nitrates. The water that we get sometimes, usually you’re smelling chlorine and a lot of bubbles.”

I asked her if people buy bottled water on top of paying $50 to $60 monthly water bills.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “If you go to the store that has a water machine, you’re seeing people with their containers putting quarters and buying water. It’s $3.99 at Costco. And if you can’t leave town, then it’s even more expensive.”

Fresnoland reporter Dayana Jiselle has a heart like Estella’s. In the last few weeks, she collected donations and used her own money to buy a Christmas tree and holiday decorations for families who wouldn’t otherwise have it.

Inspired by Dayana, I called Estella and asked if it would be helpful if Fresnoland was able to raise funds to buy some Tipton residents bottled water this month — and if she could help us distribute it. She was elated.

“Oh, absolutely!” Estella said. She asked us to bring water, copies of the story in The Fresno Bee and small holiday decorations. “Anything to bring joy.”

We know a delivery of bottled water is not the solution to Tipton’s water problems. But, it could put some extra money in residents’ pockets for the holiday season and bring joy.

Can you help? If you can, click here and write “Tipton” in the “write us a comment” box on the donation form.

Thank you, sincerely.

And now, the week’s top reads

(For the most recent local coronavirus updates, visit

Housing, Transportation, and Land Use

California Energy Commission recognizes Huron Mayor for his ‘Green Raiteros’ car sharing program. Valley Public Radio

What happened to downtown Fresno’s first rooftop bar? Here’s the latest twist. Fresno Bee

Habitat for Humanity partners with City of Clovis to build homes for veterans. Fresno Bee

Former Clovis pastor sentenced to prison for development fraud. Fresno Bee

Formerly homeless residents were kicked out of a Los Angeles motel to make room for more homeless residents. Los Angeles Times

The city of Los Angeles is paying a premium price — $130,000 for an 8 foot by 8 foot shed for the homeless. The city’s first tiny home village, consisting of 39 closet-sized homes, is scheduled to open in January. Los Angeles Times

They’re among the world’s oldest living things. The climate crisis is killing them. On the sequoias and redwoods of California’s forests. New York Times

Economy and Neighborhood Inequality

Fresno’s new police chief, Paco Balderrama, is a “rock star” from Oklahoma City. Vida en el Valle/Fresno Bee

Fresno State students and professors push for change in police funding and policy. Fresno State Collegian

In Tulare County, development rolls along as small businesses languish. Fresno Business Journal

What the end of CARES Act funding means for Fresno nonprofits providing COVID assistance. Valley Public Radio

The Golden State’s future? Most Californians are pessimistic, a new poll finds. Los Angeles Times

Twelve percent of adults in the U.S. reported last month that they “sometimes” or “often” did not have enough food, according to Commerce Department data. The widespread hunger can be attributed to the global pandemic which has led to millions of people losing their jobs as well as the lack of subsidies from the government. Washington Post

Only weeks before the holidays, the Farmers to Families Food Box program, a $4.5 billion food program that has kept millions of Americans fed through the pandemic, is running out of money. Anti-hunger experts have warned that several other federal food programs are also set to expire, and could cause food banks across the country to lose about 50 percent of the food they receive from the Agriculture Department. Washington Post

The California Employment Development Department, which runs the unemployment assistance program in the state, is asking thousands of California residents who received the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to refund the funds they received. Sacramento Bee

Water and Air Quality

State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield is circulating a petition with her constituents encouraging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reconsider the value of oil and gas companies and put a halt to executive order requiring all new car and truck sales to be zero-emission vehicles. Foothill Sun-Gazette

Fish versus farms? Now it’s fish versus people. The California water wars have shifted as a plan to protect the Delta from salt water moves forward. San Francisco Chronicle

Much of California’s water wells are contaminated with Chromium-6. A costly fix could be on the way. Capital Public Radio

Nearly five years after the landmark Paris Accord, the world is dangerously behind schedule in slowing catastrophic climate change, according to a report by the United Nations. New York Times

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