Tag Archive for 'nitrate contamination'

The Problem Is Clear: The Water Is Filthy

Retrieved from: New York Times

“SEVILLE, Calif. — Like most children, the students at Stone Corral Elementary School here rejoice when the bell rings for recess and delight in christening a classroom pet.

“But while growing up in this impoverished agricultural community of numbered roads and lush citrus orchards, young people have learned a harsh life lesson: “No tomes el agua!” — “Don’t drink the water!”

“Seville, with a population of about 300, is one of dozens of predominantly Latino unincorporated communities in the Central Valley plagued for decades by contaminated drinking water. It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap. An estimated 20 percent of small public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet safe nitrate levels, according to a United Nations representative.

“In farmworker communities like Seville, a place of rusty rural mailboxes and backyard roosters where the average yearly income is $14,000, residents like Rebecca Quintana pay double for water: for the tap water they use to shower and wash clothes, and for the five-gallon bottles they must buy weekly for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth.

“It is a life teeming with worry: about children accidentally sipping contaminated water while cooling off with a garden hose, about not having enough clean water for an elderly parent’s medications, about finding a rock while cleaning the feeding tube of a severely disabled daughter, as Lorie Nieto did. She vowed never to use tap water again.”

Read More: New York Times

Aromas neighbors battling for ‘blue gold’

“Suzie Petersen rinses her dishes in a tub of water she then uses for flushing the toilet. She recycles the water from brief showers, too. And, she says, she can wash her face in a mere cup of water.

“Since Petersen’s well ran dry five years ago and she had to start trucking in water at a cost of $225 every three or four weeks, the Via Del Sol Road resident has tapped every conservation tip in the book.

“But Petersen said it hasn’t been easy, and sometimes she feels like she’s been on an extended camping trip.

“Every time I turn on the faucet, I think about how many cups are coming out,” Petersen said. “Water is blue gold.”

“Many of her neighbors in an area known as Granite Ridge for the underlying rock are in the same boat. Too late, the residents of the Via Del Sol and Oak Ridge Drive neighborhoods on the high ground between Aromas and Prunedale discovered granite makes a poor reservoir. Those whose wells haven’t dried up are dealing with contamination from arsenic contained in the rock or nitrates from septic systems.

“After years of searching, the 60 families have found a solution. But first they have to persuade the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency to approve their plan to hook up to the Aromas Water District. The district is within the agency’s boundaries and needs its blessing for the deal.

“It’s turning out to be a hard sell to those in the community who don’t want to see diminishing Pajaro Valley groundwater supplies exported outside the agency’s boundaries.”

read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel