Daily News header

California's Drought Endangers Clean Supply of Water

By  

The California drought this year has put many in danger, from the loss of farmers' products to the drinking water in smaller communities that depend on wells. When abundant water is not available, the already contaminated groundwater becomes undrinkable due to a higher concentration of chemicals and pesticides in the water. Many of these groundwater systems are contaminated with nitrates from fertilizers, animal feeding systems, chemicals from oil extraction and natural contaminants with such as arsenic. Also, as the small water collections dry up they add to the breeding of mosquitos which can harbor diseases and the dust can affect those residents with lung conditions. In addition, the risk of range fire is also greatly increased due to the lower amount of rain and snow in California this winter.

What's being done?

In January, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the all-time low reservoir levels. In an effect to help the communities most affected, the government provided relief by trucking in water and helping to lay pipes connecting residents with nearby public water. Last Fall he also signed a bill AB 685, the "Human Right to Water" which states "Every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. Unfortunately, many residents, especially in small farming communities, are still exposed to unsafe chemicals in the water and have opted to spend excessive amounts of money to buy bottled water.

What Chemicals have been found?

Contaminated water
A woman in San Joaquin Valley, California who is exposed to nitrate and arsenic groundwater contamination
Credit: Erin Lubin

An example of the chemicals found in these communities' water in excess are trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. These are by-products from disinfectants and are said to cause kidney, liver, and central nervous system (CNS) damage as well as increased cancer risks in those exposed for prolonged periods. Another chemical that often is above the Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL in these communities is Perchlorate, which comes from fertilizers and is said to inhibit Thyroid function. As a result, residents often receive warnings on their water bill not to drink the water unless regularly tested. Another major contaminate found in California's ground water by the state water board last winter was Arsenic. Arsenic in excess of .010 parts per billion can cause skin discoloration, gastrointestinal issues, blindness and linked to cancer of many areas such as skin, kidney, liver, lungs and many others.

Next Steps

Luckily steps are being taken to try to improve the situation. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working on the process to make emergency funding available for local water areas with immediate, and emergency needs. They are also pairing with state and local partners to support projects that will improve water systems delivery of safe drinking water. They are also monitoring levels of these above discussed chemicals in the drinking water. On the other side, The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is working with the state and local farmers to find methods to be more accurate with fertilizer placement so less will run into the groundwater. In addition, these regulatory agencies and the California Water board are setting up committees and task forces to better identify risks and find means of improvements. In time, hopefully groundwater contamination of California's drinking water will be an issue of the past.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Health News News

At global tobacco treaty negotiations in Russia, Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO is worried big tobacco is openly going after children.
Tobacco industry allies tried to persuade government delegations before the global tobacco treaty negotiations began in Moscow, but governments who ratified the treaty voted for public health.
With the news today that both Dallas nurses are being transferred to another hospital for treatment, it becomes important to learn about bio-safety levels.
She reported that Cuba for one has already sent 165 health professionals to the region and plans to send nearly 300 more.
They arrive from over 115 third world countries where tuberculosis kills 2.1 million people annually, and from countries where leprosy thrives.
29-year-old Amber Vinson flew on a commercial airline within a few hours of when she self-diagnosed as possible Ebola patient. But it isn't even clear if her hospital informed her of the guidelines.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site