MODESTO -- A poor settlement isolated in the middle of dairy country nine miles south of Modesto seems closer to its dream of clean drinking water.
Monterey Park Tract, established by black families 72 years ago and now predominantly Latino, will get $2.2 million in a state grant for a water pipe extension from Ceres.
Ceres has yet to agree, but the tract's supporters say they'll agree to demands that the project cost Ceres nothing. An agreement is expected in coming weeks.
Helping to broker the deal are Stanislaus County and Self-Help Enterprises, a Visalia-based nonprofit.
County leaders on Jan. 29 approved using as much as $30,000 in stop-gap financing to pay a contractor while seeking state reimbursement during construction.
The tract's 200 people in 47 homes have struggled with bad water in recent years from two wells tainted with nitrates, arsenic and manganese, which can cause significant health problems. They've been using bottled water.
A state-funded study looked at treating the well water, refurbishing a well or drilling new ones; it determined that buying from Ceres would be best.
The arrangement would need a nod from the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission, which rules on out-of-boundary service proposals.
County Supervisor Jim DeMartini said a relatively small 4-inch-diameter pipe will discourage growth between Ceres and Monterey Park Tract. "It's enough to take care of what's out there, nothing more," he said.