Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Contaminated California: Water and the Central Valley

Last week the NYTimes covered a story regarding contaminated tap water in the Central Valley of California.  Journalist Patricia Leigh Brown focuses in on a particular unincorporated community called Seville, with a population of 300.  Seville, in Tulare County, has been dealing with issues of contaminated water for decades -- the hard truth is that many communities in California lack access to safe drinking water, a basic human right.

Years of fertilizer and pesticide use cause chemicals such as nitrates to leak into groundwater -- a source of potable water for many in California.  Nitrate contamination and poisoning can lead to a plethora of health problems: blue baby syndrome and a wide range of cancers are but some of the alarming examples.  Advocates from organizations such as California Rural Legal Assistance and Community Water Center have been working on issues of access to safe drinking water for some time in the Central Valley, especially in high-poverty and unincorporated communities.

Hopefully the recent report released from UC Davis which confirms just how serious the issue of water contamination is in the Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley -- an estimated quarter million of people in these two regions are at risk of nitrate contamination in their drinking water -- will mobilize new efforts from the state and from advocates on the ground to take on these problems through community-based local solutions.  There seems to be some momentum gaining stateside with Governor Brown signing the historic Human Right to Water Bill this past September

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