OPINION: Contaminated water threatens California homes

CN/ Melody Ortiz

By Alejandro Ambriz

Widespread contamination of water throughout California wells could pose a health risk for residents as the state of California has failed to properly address the issue and has taken a slow initiative. 

Chemicals that have been widely used since the ’40s in manufacturing and household goods have seeped in to public water supply. 

Among the chemicals found in testing that the California’s State Water Resources Control Board  conducted in over 600 wells earlier this year, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, also known as PFAS, were detected.

 The contamination reaches all of California with clusters of contaminated wells in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. 

Water goes through several sources before reaching the tap, meaning the chemicals might be diluted. California’s Water Board released in their October report that the city of Los Angeles did not detect the chemicals in its water, but the city of Glendale did. 

Anaheim has taken action and has shut down three of its drinking wells this year in response to the presence of chemicals. 

The majority of information that is available on the contaminated water comes from news outlets and not the state. California doesn’t even require utilities to inform customers if PFAS are found at any level of a water supply, nor do they require water systems to shut down. 

A law that takes effect in January will make these voluntary steps mandatory. It is concerning that the state has not up until this point required water companies to notify clients of issues with contamination. 

For a state as abundant in resources as California, communication should be the least of worries. 

It is necessary for the state to crack down on companies such as San Gabriel Water Company and California American Water because otherwise, residents are at their mercy, as is the case with Orange County.

 For Orange County, the district traced the contamination back to its water treatment plants in Riverside and San Bernardino, which provides for the county’s groundwater basin. 

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Water District Executive Director Jason Dadakis said, “If the chemicals spread and the district is forced to clean, residents will see as much as a 15 percent increase in their water bills.” 

Residents shouldn’t have to bear the cost of something that is not their fault. Water companies need to fix the issue with their funds as residents are already paying taxes.

California is a heavily populated state and produces a lot of taxes, most significantly personal income tax. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Gross Domestic Product for California was three trillion dollars for 2018. 

The state also reported a nine billion dollar surplus for the 2018-2019 California Spending Plan. 

With a high GDP and extra money in the budget, Californians should see that revenue go back into its infrastructure. 

Yet, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found that California has 21 contaminated bases, the most than any other state. 

The State Water Resources Control Board has begun to develop maximum levels for  PFAS chemicals found in the contaminated wells, but there are thousands of variants. If some are detected, others surely won’t. 

It’s difficult to regulate a class of chemicals this large, but it’s definitely a step California needs to take.

Residents who are concerned their water might be contaminated should contact their water provider. 

The 600 plus wells that were tested and were deemed a high risk included airports and places that previously tested positive. 

Residents should not be concerned if they cant find any information as the state will be conducting tests over the next few months in what will be a costly and lengthy fix.

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