Many in state rely on contaminated water sources
Tulare County singled out in state report
More than half of California’s population relies on a drinking water supply contaminated by arsenic, nitrates and other contaminants, though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe, according to a new report by the State Water Resources Control Board released earlier this week.
Tulare County was singled out in the report. It was fourth in the state in having the greatest number of water systems that rely on a contaminated groundwater source behind Los Angles, Kern and San Bernardino counties.
The report states Tulare County has “41 community water systems that rely on contaminated groundwater source that serve approximately 205,000 people. Sole reliance on groundwater for these communities stands at 99 percent.”
By contrast, Los Angeles County has 89 community water systems that serve approximately 8.4 million people, but only 11 percent of that population is solely reliant on a contaminated groundwater source.
The report, ordered by the state Legislature, shows that from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of a little more than 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells. Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.
Arsenic was the most-detected naturally occurring contaminant, while nitrate was the human-caused contaminant detected the most. Chemical fertilizers and livestock manure are the main source of nitrate contamination in groundwater.
The report stresses that most of the communities blend or treat their water with cleaner supplies, drill a new well or provide another alternative source, passing on the extra costs to rate payers. According to the California Department of Public Health, over 98 percent of Californians on public water supply are served safe drinking water.
But, some communities cannot afford water treatment or other alternatives. The report said 265 community water systems have delivered water from wells that have exceeded the nitrate, arsenic or other standards. Most of these communities are located in rural Kern, Tulare and Madera counties and serve contaminated water to about 2 million Californians.
Community water systems in the Orange Belt that rely on a contaminated groundwater source for drinking water, according to the report, are: Lake Success Mobile Lodge (Porterville), Tract 327 Mutual Water Co. (Springville), the Porterville Developmental Center (Porterville), Strathmore Pubic Utility District, Del Oro River Island Serv Terr #1 (Porterville) and #2 (Springville), Beverly Grand Mutual Water (Porterville), Fairways Tract Mutual (Porterville), Sierra Mutual Water Company (Porterville), Triple R Mutual Water Co. (Springville), and Akin Water Co. (Porterville).