Published: March 29, 2011

    Price of Water

    SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, CA – We live in a country where we can tend to take things for granted; especially the simple things, like clean water.

    But clean water is no longer a “luxury” enjoyed by the residents of San Joaquin Valley in California. Populated by over a million residents, they have found their drinking water contaminated by everything from animal waste to sewage to fertilizers.

    A recent report from The Pacific Institute stated that local water authorities need to do a better job of informing residents when contamination occurs. The study also says state officials should more closely regulate nitrate sources, such as irrigated agriculture.

    The Official Word

    The response from the locally elected officials has been pretty unanimous. They allege that the problem would cost too much to fix after estimates from The Pacific Institute projected costs upwards of $150 million to subsidize these water projects.

    To make a bad situation even worse, the tainted water creates an additional hardship for the poorer neighborhoods who must struggle with the expense of buying bottled water to provide a safe drinking water alternative. Many families are paying more than $100 a month for water service and bottled water.

    Beyond the Valley

    Nitrate contamination of the water is also a problem for points south of the southern end of San Joaquin Valley. A study released last year by the U.S. Geological Service and other agencies showed contamination in 18 percent of the sampled wells on the east side of Stanislaus and Merced counties. The tests were for arsenic, nitrate and vanadium.

    Some of the wells in Modesto, California have had to be closed, but with an alternate water source from the Tuolumne River, this area is not necessarily experiencing the same dire circumstances as those at the southern end of the valley.

    Unfortunately, while the gravity of the situation is probably not lost on the elected officials; they just seem to have put a price tag on the health and wellness of their constituents.