Child drinking water

Under California law, everyone in the state has a right to clean and affordable drinking water.

But many disadvantaged communities still rely on contaminated water – either from private wells or public water sources.

“Our groundwater in the Central Valley in California has been highly polluted … and it’s running through old and dilapidated infrastructure getting to people’s taps,” says Susana De Anda, co-founder of the Community Water Center, an environmental justice organization.

She says industry and agriculture contribute to the problem. Runoff from fertilizer can cause high nitrate levels, which pose health risks. And excessive pumping during droughts can cause arsenic to accumulate in groundwater.

But relief is in sight. Last year, California passed a law establishing a fund for safe and affordable drinking water. Using money from the state’s cap-and-trade program, it allocates up to $130 million to solutions each year for a decade.

“This money is also going to be available, not only to just public water systems that are not meeting safe drinking water standards, but it’s also available for people on domestic wells, on private wells,” Da Anda says.

So she says it’s an important step toward California’s goal of clean water for all.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.