Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New clean water bills attempt to aid rural California

Last Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a collection of new clean water bills. One of the main target areas of the new bills is to improve water quality in rural areas, particularly rural areas in the San Joaquin Valley.

A collaborative study done by the Pacific Institute, the Clean Water Center, and the Clean Water Fund revealed troubling findings about the water quality throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The study brought to light widespread nitrate contamination of the California groundwater that services the valley. For example, over 75% of the nation’s nitrate contaminated water occurred in the San Joaquin Valley in 2007. Moreover, over a million residents in the valley had nitrate contaminated water coming out of their faucets between 2005 and 2008. Nitrate contamination in water can have negative effects on humans in a wide variety of ways and is particularly harmful and potentially fatal to infants.

The study claims that rural areas in the Valley with widespread poverty and a lack of resources are particularly affected by the contaminated drinking water. Poor families living in rural areas are faced with the choice of using contaminated water or spending precious time and resources on expensive bottled water.

The clean water bills that Governor Brown signed are geared to assist rural communities. For example, AB 983 allows “severely disadvantaged communities” 100% grant funding for water improvement projects as opposed to 80% funding that they currently receive. SB 244 requires cities and counties to consider the clean drinking water needs of smaller, disadvantaged communities in urban planning efforts. AB 938 requires drinking water alerts to be translated in areas where 10% of the population served by a water district have a first language other than English.

While the bills that Governor Brown signed are small steps towards solving a bigger problem, they are necessary and important steps to make. Hopefully, they will represent only a first step in making a statistically significant improvement in the health of California communities adversely affected by the quality of water.

1 comment:

JWHS said...

I think this is really important. My town would get water from this stream just south of us. While really pretty, the water had a lot of minerals in it. Frankly, it tasted disgusting.

Meanwhile, my mom was also into the "bottle-watered" fad. Which meant that every grocery store trip saw us buying multiple jugs of water.