More than 1 million Californians are affected by unsafe or
unreliable sources of water for cooking, drinking and bathing.
They can lose access to water supplies when their wells run dry,
especially during drought when groundwater is relied on more
heavily and the water table drops. Employment disruptions caused
by the COVID-19 pandemic can impair their ability to pay water
bills on time. Communities of color are most often burdened by
Below you’ll find the latest news articles raising
awareness on efforts to seek water equity written by the staff at
the Water Education Foundation and other organizations that were
posted in our Aquafornia news aggregate.
Life in Tooleville wasn’t easy before the latest
drought. Residents of this tiny, two-road farmworker
community, tucked into the edge of the Sierra Nevada foothills
in eastern Tulare County, have been living on bottled water
since 2014 because its two wells are contaminated with
hexavalent chromium. Then in July, one of those wells
started to dry up, thanks to plummeting groundwater levels.
State Water Resources Control Board officials agree
Tooleville’s other well will likely hit sand in a matter of
Environmental justice groups gathered Monday, Aug. 30, in front
of the California EPA building in Sacramento, demanding cleanup
of contaminated sites around the state … Organizers of the
demonstration said the California Environmental Protection
Agency and Department of Toxic Substances Control, the
regulatory agency overseeing the investigation and cleanup of
contaminated soil and groundwater at the SSFL, failed to hold
polluters accountable, allowing them to walk away from cleaning
contaminated sites often located in low-income and
Right now, Congress is debating needed investments in our water
system decades in the making. While the Senate’s compromise
bill passed earlier this month includes billions for lead pipe
replacement and helping communities prepare for future drought
and floods, the bill falls short of ensuring all families can
turn their tap on and access safe, affordable water.
… Some utilities are stepping up to help (both San
Francisco Public Utilities and East Bay Municipal
Utilities District have customer assistance programs)
… -Written by Michael McAfee, president and CEO of
PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on
advancing racial and economic equity, and Susana De
Anda, co-founder and executive director of the Community
Water Center, a nonprofit environmental justice organization
based in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Nicole Horseherder lives in Hard Rock, Ariz., population 53.
Hard Rock sits on the Black Mesa, which takes its name from the
numerous coal seams running through the plateau in western
Arizona. Horseherder’s home has no running water, as it
is prohibitively expensive to drill down to the nearest aquifer
that has potable water. Twice a week, she drives her
20-year-old, three-quarter-ton GMC pickup—towing a 500-gal.
tank mounted on a flatbed trailer—to a community well 25 miles
away. Coal and water have dominated
Horseherder’s life and work for the past decade.
Few people visit a public garden bearing their own name, but
that was what Bette Boatmun experienced as she strolled through
the drought-resistant, waterwise and blooming plants in the
Bette Boatmun Conservation Garden last month. The Concord
resident left more than her name when she retired from the
Contra Costa Water District board of directors in December. Her
legacy includes the historic Los Vaqueros Reservoir, guiding a
community through two severe droughts, and nearly a half
century of local and statewide governance.
Some activists claim the county is no longer providing them
water to take to homeless encampments—a service offered over
the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gail Osmer, an advocate
for houseless communities, said throughout the pandemic she’s
gotten multiple cases of water from the county Office of
Supportive Housing to distribute. But earlier this month, she
says the county refused to give her water, citing too many
requests. In an email to Osmer, a county worker said water is
only being given out during “inclement weather
activations”—such as certain days with extremely hot
It’s been a tough year for the Klamath River. The Klamath,
which flows through Oregon and Northern California and into the
Pacific Ocean, is suffering from drought and infrastructure
problems. That’s caused trouble, not just for the fish in the
river, but also for the tribes and farmers who rely on it for
day-to-day living. Drought conditions are so bad this year that
the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocated $15 million to
support farmers who don’t have enough water for their crops.
Klamath Basin tribes are also struggling to feed their people,
but so far they haven’t received such support.
The California State Water Resources Board (SWRCB) has given
the city of Needles $3 million for drinking water
infrastructure, according to a press release. The funding will
support a new drinking well and booster station. The City of
Needles worst fears were realized In July when the only well
that supplies the community with portable drinking water
failed. The city was able to identify the replacement
part and repaired the well within 24 hours.
High schooler Eshani Jha from [Lynbrook High School in San
José, California] received the prestigious 2021 Stockholm
Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants
from water. …. Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an
international competition where students between the ages of 15
and 20 present solutions to major water challenges.
A drought in California has led to a spike in the state’s water
prices, nearly doubling the value of futures contracts for the
essential commodity this year and creating opportunities in
water-related investments. As of Aug. 24, the Nasdaq Veles
California Water Index, which represents the weighted average
price of water-rights transactions across five major markets in
California and is published weekly, has climbed by roughly 87%
year to date to $923.54 per one-acre foot.
Maria Olivera’s house sits on a dirt road that dead-ends at the
Friant Kern Canal, the 152-mile aqueduct quenching the endless
thirst of the San Joaquin Valley crops that feed the country.
She’s called Tooleville home since 1974, where residents have
been fighting to attain the basic human right to clean drinking
water for the better part of two decades.
The heightened need for handwashing during the pandemic posed a
challenge for the many homes without water. For many years, the
rugged topography and remoteness of the Navajo Nation made
piping water to homes challenging. Since 2003, IHS and a
network of partners have reduced the number of Navajo homes
without water access from 30 percent to 20 percent. New funding
from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES)
Act provided the Navajo Area IHS with $5.2 million, targeted
specifically to increasing water access on the Navajo Nation.
For those who live on the Klamath River, its health
reflects the people, positioning us on the precipice of life or
death. The Klamath is magical and meandering, a river
surrounded by towering redwoods and mountains. But the
controversy over its water has lasted for decades, and the big
questions — whether to remove four dams, who gets the water
during drought years — often put farmers and Natives at odds.
The state of California took the first step to order and
potentially pay for the city of Exeter in Tulare County to
extend water service to hundreds of homes in a nearby town
without safe and stable drinking water. For decades, the 340
residents of Tooleville have relied on contaminated groundwater
as their main source of tap water….
California’s ecosystems play an essential role in protecting
the state’s water supply, minimizing unwanted flooding, and
sequestering carbon—among many other benefits. But the
unintended consequences of more than a century of water and
land development—compounded by the impacts of a changing
climate—are pushing many of these ecosystems to the breaking
Nearly 200 people in the Klamath Basin this summer reported
their wells going dry. In response, local and federal emergency
officials have delivered hundreds of the 2,500-gallon,
igloo-shaped storage tanks that can hook up to people’s homes
to get some water flowing through their pipes again. When
someone’s well runs dry, they can first try and drop their pump
deeper into their well. That’s the equipment that pumps water
from the well into pipes that run into a building.
Summers are getting hotter. Rain and snowpack are disappearing,
and water reserves are shrinking. This reduction of readily
available, adequate water resources is creating a crisis that
directly harms Californians and their environment. Studies have
found that one million Californians do not have safe drinking
water. In addition, during the last drought, about 3,500
domestic wells went dry and about 2,600 households were
negatively affected by the lack of available water.
“I love the smell of diesel power in the afternoon. It smells
like victory.” The line, a play on the quote from the Vietnam
war movie Apocalypse Now, is the first uttered in a July video
by Doug LaMalfa, the US congressman for Siskiyou county. In the
background, bulldozers are destroying what appears to be a
field with marijuana plants. LaMalfa’s video was a response to
a call from the Siskiyou county sheriff, who had invited
citizens in this remote region in northern California to help
his department in the fight against illegal marijuana grows.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are toxic chemicals
that have been linked to multiple serious health harms, such as
cancer and developmental and reproductive harm. Unfortunately,
PFAS are widely used in everyday products such as nonstick
cookware, water-resistant clothing, and food packaging. Even
worse, PFAS are very resistant to break down—and can accumulate
to dangerously high levels in the human body. Monitoring shows
that virtually all people residing in the United States have
some level of PFAS in their bodies.
As if California’s drought situation could get no worse, water
agencies and poor communities in the southern San Joaquin
Valley are confronting a new reality. While they receive no
water from the State Water Project, they’re being hit with rate
hikes of up to 18 percent from last year by California water
officials. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, state water users
in the old Tulare Lake bed – including water agencies
that serve some of the state’s poorest communities – called for
the Department of Water Resources to halt its planned hike on