When more than 300,000 residents of tiny farm towns in the San Joaquin Valley open the faucet, they don’t get the same pure water as Bay Area residents. What flows out is cloudy, brown and laced with unsafe levels of arsenic and nitrates. It’s a shameful problem that California has promised but failed to fix.
Residents of Compton have complained about brown, smelly water coming out of their taps for more than a year. And when officials began talking about dissolving the troubled local water district, the area’s congresswoman scheduled a town hall meeting so community members could weigh in.
In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley, excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence, damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water conveyance.
Even in times of drought, California’s natural and human-made arteries run with the nation’s cleanest, most accessible water. So fundamental is the stuff to the state’s identity and to its residents’ daily lives that California law recognizes a human right to “safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”
Tulare’s water system failed to meet state water drinking standards, city officials reported in a letter sent to residents this week. It could take three years to completely clear the cancer-causing contaminant from Tulare’s water supply, city officials said.
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are stuck living with contaminated drinking water. … The good news: Help is available to many of these small community water systems, provided they can merge with a neighboring utility that has clean water.
A proposed tax on California’s drinking water, designed to clean up contaminated water for thousands of Californians, was abandoned by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders Friday as part of the compromise on the state budget. Lawmakers and Brown’s office scrapped the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act,” which would have taxed residents 95 cents a month to raise millions for cleaning toxic wells.
Healdsburg Mayor Jim Wood is a dentist who believes in the effectiveness of fluoridated water in combating tooth decay. But he won’t be writing the argument against a November ballot measure to remove fluoride from the city’s water.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited drought-stricken homeowners on Friday in Central California, saying drought and climate change would require major investment to secure future water supplies.
As California’s drought really starts to bite–the mandatory water use restrictions approved by the state Tuesday are just the beginning–questions are bound to be raised about the indescribably wasteful use of water to retail bottlers.
From the Los Angeles Times, in a commentary by Karin Klein:
Bottled water is usually a waste of money and, beyond that, an environmental mess. … Now people are starting to question the environmental cost of allowing water-bottling operations in the state’s drought-stricken areas — specifically, Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.
Opponents of fluoridated water opened a new front in their campaign Monday, urging the Healdsburg City Council to put warning labels in utility bills advising residents not to mix city water with baby formula for infants under 6 months old.
“Not satisfied with their efforts to kill a plan for addressing Sonoma County’s horrendous dental problem among children, the anti-fluoridation folks have turned their sights on Healdsburg, hoping to pull the plug on a program that has existed there for 62 years.”
“As calls flooded into the Hemet water department Thursday after the city had to shut down two wells because of high nitrate levels, city officials worked to assure residents that there are no dangers in tap water.”