drinking water

John Chacon / CA Department of Water Resources

In March, the COVID-19 relief bill known as the CARES Act set aside $900 million to help Americans pay their utility bills. Earlier this week, a broad coalition of water agencies delivered a letter to Congress advocating for more funding.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The goal of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, is to better regulate the state’s water reserves. But as the law rolls out, a new study predicts tens of thousands of people could lose their drinking water.

  

On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom placed an executive order restricting water shutoffs retroactively from March 4th. That’s good news, community advocates say, but it doesn’t help those whose water was already shut off. 

Jonathan Nelson is the Policy Director for the Community Water Center. He says Newsom’s   order will help people who are worried about paying future bills. But what about those whose water has been shut off for over a month?

Casey Beck

Contaminated water has flown from faucets in Tooleville, a small community in Tulare County, since the 1980s. "The Great Water Divide: California's Water Crisis" is a new documentary that follows the residents' efforts to connect to neighboring Exeter's water supply. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke to the filmmaker, Casey Beck, and Tooleville resident Ben Cuevas Martinez. 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Irma Medellin left Mexico in 1988 to find work in the San Joaquin Valley. When she first arrived in Lindsay, she says she mostly kept to herself. She picked olives and apples, she worked in restaurants and as a seamstress.

 

It wasn’t until Medellin joined The Immigrant Photography Project at a local school a decade later that she started really interacting with her community. 

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Jovita Torres Romo lives in a grayish bungalow surrounded by cactus and succulents and strung with Christmas lights. It’s located on one of the handful of streets that make up Tombstone Territory, an unincorporated Fresno County community that’s been her home for 30 years. It’s quiet, except for the few days a week when her young grandchildren come over to watch cartoons and play in the backyard. “I like it here,” she says through a Spanish interpreter. “I raised five children here, they grew up in this house, and I like living outside the city in the county.”

Flickr User Michael Patrick, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Later this week, the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on a long-anticipated plan to reduce some of the pollutants flowing into Central Valley water. However, not everyone agrees on the details.

Valley Public Radio

Roughly a million Californians lack access to safe drinking water. And while a scarcity of money or local leadership can stand in the way of fixes, so too can California’s byzantine water management system.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin signed a historic water bill into law on Wednesday morning, and he chose to sign it in a rural community outside Fresno.

Newsom was joined by local residents, environmental advocates, and legislators as he signed Senate Bill 200, which creates a long-term fund to support the more than 300 California communities that lack safe drinking water. “The idea that we’re living in a state with a million people that don’t have access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water is a disgrace,” Newsom said during the event.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The unincorporated Fresno County community of Lanare has long been a poster child for California’s widespread contaminated drinking water. For the past 13 years, Lanare’s water had tested higher than the state limit for arsenic, but that changed in February, when the water received a passing grade after a $3.8 million state grant paid for two new drinking water wells.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

For the first time in two years, legislators in Sacramento may have paved the way toward establishing a statewide safe drinking water fund.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Two Fresno City Councilmembers made an atypical move at a press conference today by throwing in their support for a clean water drinking fund—as long as it doesn’t involve a tax.

At Gaston Middle School in South Fresno, community members and advocates met to urge lawmakers to support the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, a pot of money the legislature is considering creating in order to provide drinking water cleanup in disadvantaged communities.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A state senate committee is set to vote on a bill today that would address safe and affordable drinking water throughout California, a goal Governor Gavin Newsom has also prioritized in his proposed budget. Still to be decided is how to fund it.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia. “It took us about 8 years and $9.2 million to comply with their new standards,” he says. “And we just got that plant online in September of 2017.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: Police have a suspect in the murder of a former Valley District Attorney’s son -- video surveillance shows the suspect dressed in opposing gang colors.

And California’s drinking water landscape can be tough for anyone to navigate - especially in small communities already facing other challenges. We learn about a program in Visalia that's fostering water leadership.

Plus Fresno writer Mark Arax has a new book about valley water politics, and a Visalia teenager gets a nod from a national podcasting competition.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom signed his first pieces of legislation into law on Wednesday, and he chose to sign them at a school where the water contains a carcinogen and kids can’t even use the drinking fountains.

Newsom opened his visit in a history classroom, introducing the bills to a room full of students at Riverview Elementary School in the Fresno County City of Parlier. “Shall we sign?” he asked, crouching down before the front row with a pen. “Yes,” they shouted, raising their hands excitedly.

Self-Help Enterprises

Of all the ground Governor Gavin Newsom covered in his first week in office, he already appears to be showing a commitment to improving the state’s drinking water.

On Friday, Governor Newsom took a road trip to Monterey Park Tract, an unincorporated community in Stanislaus County. There, he and his entourage heard concerns from residents about their drinking water, which they pipe in from the nearby city of Ceres and is known to contain a carcinogen known as 1,2,3-TCP.

John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

In June of this year, the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications published a research article linking over-pumping of the San Joaquin Valley’s groundwater to rising concentrations of arsenic. The research caught the attention of water leaders from across the state, and on Thursday, October 11, many will be gathering at Fresno State for a symposium to discuss the problem of arsenic in groundwater and workshop solutions to it.

Valley Public Radio

In January of this year, a state law went into effect that requires public schools throughout California to test their drinking water for lead by July of 2019. Lawmakers enacted the regulation in an effort to improve water quality at schools. And while thousands of water districts have now tested their water for lead, a special report out of the education news website EdSource found many ways in which the law is lacking.

Pages